Fans packed the Credit Union Centre to watch the Huskies men’s hockey team battle the University of Alberta Golden Bears for the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s hockey championship on March 23. The Dogs fought hard but fell to the Bears 3-1 in the final to take silver.
The Huskies were searching for their first national title since 1983. Although the Dogs came up just short, head coach Dave Adolph was proud of the way the team played.
“It’s hard to win a national championship,” Adolph said. “Our guys gave it everything they had. They fought their way to credibility and proved they belonged in this tournament. Today, they just ran into a powerhouse.”
The Bears came into the tournament as the top seed and their strong play throughout the tournament earned them their 14th national championship.
“We’re a hard-working team; that’s Bears hockey,” said head coach Ian Herbers. “This weekend we were very aggressive on the forecheck and on the penalty-kill. We were able to play three very solid games and that’s what you need to win this championship.”
The Bears got on the board first with a goal from Jordan Hickmott four minutes into the second period. The turning point came after Bear Johnny Lazo took a major penalty and a game misconduct for hitting Huskie Kenton Dulle from behind.
With one minute left in the penalty Levko Koper and James Dobrowolski took off on a two-on-one and Koper was able to maneuver a pass from Dobrowolski past Huskie goalie Ryan Holfeld for the game winner.
“I’m not going to lie, on the winning goal I kind of closed my eyes and hoped it goes in,” said Koper. “It’s an amazing feeling. There are no words to describe how we feel right now.”
The Huskies cut the deficit to one goal less than a minute later after Derek Hulak netted a pass from Josh Roach. Koper scored his second goal of the night to give the Bears a 3-1 lead at 14:12 in the third period.
“We gave everything we had for three straight games. We left nothing on the ice,” said Hulak following the loss. “Hats off to Alberta, they’re a formidable team.”
Holfeld was named player of the game for the Huskies while Koper took the honour for the Bears.
The Huskies advanced to the final with wins over the Acadia University Axemen and the University of Windsor Lancers.
Facing the Axemen in their first match on March 21, the Huskies triumphed 3-2 thanks to a goal from Hulak with two minutes and two seconds left in regulation time.
“We knew we needed to win this game and it feels good to get the win,” Hulak said.
Cody Smuk and Brennan Bosch netted the other two goals for the Dogs.
The Huskies handily defeated the Windsor Lancers 9-0 on March 22 to advance to the championship game. The Dogs were relentless in their attack with Smuk, Roach, Andrew Bailey, Kendall McFaull, Craig McCallum, John Lawrence and Ryan McDonald all scoring goals and Hulak netting two.
“This is what you dream about when you come to university,” said Bailey. “I’ve always wanted to play for a national championship and I’ve got my opportunity now after five years.”
The 2015 and 2016 University Cups will be held in Halifax, N.S.
Photos: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor