The best university men’s hockey teams in the country will descend on Saskatoon’s Credit Union Centre from March 19 – 23 for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship.
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies will be joined by the University of Alberta Golden Bears, the Acadia University Axemen, the University of Windsor Lancers, the McGill University Redmen and the Carleton University Ravens in pursuit of the University Cup.
The Huskies are attempting to capture their second CIS title in team history but will have a tough road in order to do so. The top seed Golden Bears have 13 national titles, making them the most decorated team in CIS men’s hockey history. The Axemen and the Redmen are the other previous winners in the draw, with two and one titles respectively.
Entering the tournament as the fifth seed, the Huskies are looking to better their zero win result from last year. Head coach Dave Adolph knows the team will have to play tough from the time the puck drops if they want a shot at the title.
“The University Cup is a unique format in that it’s not a best-of-three or a best-of-five, it’s a tournament but if you don’t win your first game you really can’t accomplish what your goal is at the beginning of the year and that’s to win a national championship,” he said. “It’s really imperative that your team is ready to play on the first night.”
With a bye on opening night, the Dogs will have a chance to scope out their opponent before taking to the ice on Friday when they will play either the Axemen or the Lancers. Adolph is hoping that having the crowd behind them will give the team an extra boost no matter who they face.
“Home ice advantage is a big thing in sport and I’m certainly hoping it will help us,” he said.
Key players for the Huskies will be goalie Ryan Holfeld, forward Derek Hulak and team captain Brennan Bosch. Holfeld made 708 saves during the regular season — the fifth highest tally in the country — and turned away 92 per cent of shots that came his way.
After finishing the regular season with a conference-best 48 points, Hulak was named Canada West Most Valuable Player and First-Team All Star. Hulak recorded 13 goals and 35 assists in a stellar season on the ice .
Team captain Bosch is in his last year with the team and will look to make an impact during his final games. Bosch tallied nine goals and 16 assists through 28 games.
“We’re looking for big things from him,” Adolph said.
The Huskies need to return to their excellent mid-season form when they take on the toughest teams in the country. The Dogs went 9-3 in the second half of the season before losing to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the quarter-finals of the Canada West playoffs.
“We’re a very competitive team,” Adolph said. “We love the fact that we’re representing the University of Saskatchewan at a national championship and we want to represent well.”