The Huskies won’t be hoisting the University Cup in front of hometown fans this year.
The University of Saskatchewan squad was knocked out of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey national championship tournament after falling 3-1 to the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes tonight at Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon.
The Dogs failed to win either round-robin match in their pool, losing to the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds 3-1 last night.
The Reds and Patriotes will play tomorrow to determine which team moves on to the tournament final.
Tonight, the Patriotes capitalized better on their scoring opportunities than the Huskies.
Tommy Tremblay put UQTR on the board first six minutes into the opening frame. After Huskies goaltender Ryan Holfeld dove across the crease to stop an initial shot from the Patriotes’ Félix Petit, the puck fluttered onto Tremblay’s blade. Tremblay easily buried the rubber into the gaping net.
“Getting the first goal in this game was very important. We had to go through six days off, a lot of travelling and we had only two practices this week,” Tremblay said. “Getting that first goal put a lot of stress off everybody.”
The Huskies answered back late in the frame, with the Patriotes’ Pierre-Olivier Morin in the penalty box for tripping.
13 seconds into the man advantage, Saskatchewan’s Andrew Bailey fired the puck on net. The puck bounced off Patriotes netminder Marc-Antoine Gelinas and deflected straight up in the air. As it floated back down to the ice, the Huskies swatted at it unsuccessfully until it bounced and Kyle Bortis banged it into the net.
The squads went into the dressing room tied at one after the first, with the shots 13-12 for the Dogs.
The second period was a stalemate as both goalies turned away quality chances at each end.
The Huskies’ best chance of the frame came with five minutes left in the period. Saskatchewan defenceman Zak Stebner walked out from the UQTR corner and nearly beat Gelinas on the short side. Gelinas didn’t know where the puck was until the referee blew the whistle to stop the play.
“We just didn’t have the puck luck tonight,” fifth-year Huskie Chris Durand said of his squad’s scoring chances following the game. “It was unfortunate.”
A few minutes after Stebner’s chance, UQTR nearly added their second goal. After Olivier Donovan carried the puck through the Huskie zone, he fired a puck at Holfeld. Holfeld stopped it but, in the following scrum, the puck found its way into the slot for the trailing Emmanuel Boudreau. Holfeld made good on the second save, however, and the squads remained knotted at one going into the third.
The Patriotes outshot the Huskies 9-6 in the frame.
The tie broke almost immediately in the third period. With Huskies defenceman Ryan Funk in the box for tripping, UQTR took a 2-1 lead just over one minute into the frame after Donovan’s point shot snuck cleanly past Holfeld.
The Patriotes were able to stave off the remaining Huskies’ attacks to add an empty netter with less than one second remaining.
Holfeld finished the game stopping 32 of 34 shots against him while Gelinas turned away 24 of 25.
“Obviously they watched us the night before,” Durand said. “They had a game plan against us and we just couldn’t get any sustained pressure.”
The winner of the Patriotes-Reds game tomorrow night will face the top team from the tournament’s other three-team pool in the University Cup final Sunday. The other pool consists of the Alberta Golden Bears, Waterloo Warriors and Saint Mary’s Huskies.
Photo: Pete Yee