The Huskies men’s hockey team won their U Sports University Cup quarter-final game only to leave empty handed after an electric semifinal loss against the Alberta Golden bears and a last-chance fight for bronze against the St. Francis Xavier X-Men.
The Huskies headed into the March 14 to 17 U Sports University Cup seeded fifth in Canada. They proved they were there to fight, defeating the Guelph Gryphons in the quarter-finals. A loss to top seed for the championship and their riveting rivals, the Alberta Golden Bears, forced the Huskies try for bronze in their last game. The St. Francis Xavier X-Men proved too tough a foe in the final game, and the Huskies settled for fourth place.
The Huskies immediately put the pressure on the Gryphons with Logan McVeigh scoring the first goal a mere three minutes and 37 seconds into the game. Nine minutes later, Evan Fiala recorded his first goal as a Huskie after he fired the puck over the mitt of Gryphon netminder Andrew Masters, widening the team’s lead on the Gryphons.
The second period saw three goals in total: a lone Gryphons’ goal and a pair of Huskies’ goals scored by Carson Stadnyk and Wyatt Johnson, respectively. Following the two-goal-per-period rhythm of the game, Carson Stadnyk and Levi Cable each found the back of the Gryphons’ net for the Huskies’ six-goal win.
The semifinal game against the Alberta Golden Bears was a chance for the Huskies to taste Canada West revenge. The game was a tug of war through the first and second periods with both teams desperate to open the scoring.
The Golden Bears got the break in the third period, scoring less than two minutes in and adding two more by the end of the game to make it a 0-3 victory over the Huskies. After the third Golden Bear goal, the sour feeling between the teams reared its ugly head as major fighting broke out. Similar to the second game of the Canada West final on March 2, the Huskies racked up the penalty minutes — with a total of 43 Huskies’ penalty minutes to the Golden Bears’ four.
Suspensions were also handed out to a few Huskies players. With a mere 30 seconds left, brothers Jesse and Alex Forsberg of the Huskies were given instigator penalties for initiating conflict with the Golden Bears. These penalties meant automatic suspensions for the next game.
Playing for bronze, the Huskies came face to face with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men. The first period turned rocky quickly as the X-Men snapped up two power-play goals by the 13-minute mark. They found opportunity and doubled their lead on the Huskies in the second period for a wide 0-4 lead heading into the final period.
The fifth and last goal by the X-Men was scored just three minutes into the third period. Although the Huskies outshot the X-Men 49-16, they only managed one goal in the game. With 31 seconds left on the clock, Parker Thomas sailed the puck over X-Men goalie Chase Marchand’s shoulder, snapping the shutout for a final score of 1-5 and settling the Huskies in fourth place.
The Huskie careers of players Parker Thomas, Jesse Forsberg and Michael Sofillas finished that night. The trio of fifth years will not be coming back for another season. All three were outstanding student athletes and contributors to Huskies hockey. The team saw silver in the Canada West championship and fourth in the University Cup this year — making for a fine season to end on.
Photo: GetMyPhoto.ca / Supplied