University hockey returned from its long December break this last weekend. The men kicked off the new year with games on Jan. 3 and 4 as the Huskies hosted the 3–15 University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
The men split their weekend set and after those results, they sit fourth in the Canada West Conference at 9–10–1 while the Pronghorns’ record now sits at 4–16.
The Saturday night contest at Rutherford Rink saw the Huskies dispose of the Pronghorns 5–3 in a game full of big momentum swings. The Dogs struck first about midway into the first period on a five-on-three power play opportunity when Zak Stebner’s point shot beat Pronghorns netminder Damien Ketlo. The Huskies kept the offence going later in the period when the power play clicked again as Matthew Spafford tipped a shot past Ketlo to make it 2–0 with five minutes left in the first. Before you could blink, the Pronghorns had a goal back on a Ryon Moser tap in at 15:23.
Pronghorns defenceman David McMullen tied the game at two halfway through the second period on a scramble in front of the goal. A few minutes later, Cason Machacek beat Huskies goaltender Ryan Holfeld. Down 3–2 entering the third, three third period goals helped the Huskies to a comeback victory. Josh Roach tied the game at three after streaking down the right side and beating Ketlo five-hole early into the third. Craig McCallum gave the Huskies a lead with only four minutes left in the game after cashing in on a turnover in front of the Pronghorns’ goal. Spafford potted an empty netter to make the final 5–3 for the home side and started 2015 off on the right foot.
The following evening, the Huskies could not complete the sweep as the Pronghorns dominated game two of the weekend series 5–2. Lethbridge forced a turnover early in the first and Artsiom Kalashnikov banged home a loose puck after being left alone in front of the goal. Brandon Clowes scored on Jordon Cooke five-hole late in the first to give the Pronghorns a 2–0 lead after 20 minutes of action.
Clowes got his second goal of the game 4:18 into the second on the power play as he beat Cooke high glove. Jesse Ross cut into the Lethbridge lead shortly after after receiving a pass from Roach. Early in the third, Clowes finished off his hat trick on a partial breakaway. Cass Mappin banged home his own rebound at four minutes into the third to make it 5–1. McCallum’s power play goal midway through the third gave the Huskies a slight comeback opportunity but they could get no closer as they fell 5–2.
Looking to get back in the win column, the Dogs will stay at home and play host to the third place University of Calgary Dinos on Jan. 9 and 10. Sitting just seven points back of the Dinos in the standings, this will be a key weekend set to determine playoff seeding. It’ll be a tough matchup for the Huskies as Calgary features the best netminder in Canada West. Kris Lazaruk has a 7–3 record and leads the conference in goals against average, save percentage and shutouts.
For the women, they will travel to Calgary in a battle of the top two teams in CanWest. The Dogs currently sit in first place with 32 points while Calgary is right behind them with 30.
Both the men and women play on Jan. 9 and 10 versus the Calgary Dinos. The men will be at Rutherford Rink for both games with puck drop set for 7 p.m. while the women will be in Calgary and will also play at 7 p.m.
Photo: Katherine Fedoroff/Photo Editor