After the cancelled 2020-21 campaign, the defending Canada West champion Huskies, now led by head coach Mike Babcock, emerged victorious in their regular season home opener at Merlis Belsher Place.
The Huskies men’s hockey team eked out a nerve wracking 3-2 victory against the Cougars.
Second-year forward Justin Ball pounced on a rebound in front of the net to get the Huskies on the board with 5:24 left in the first period. However, the Cougars tied the game at one goal apiece in the second period, setting up the crowd of over 2,000 fans for a high-stakes third period.
The Cougars scored again just 47 seconds into the third period, but the Huskies remained vigilant and were rewarded for their offensive efforts. With less than seven minutes remaining, first-year forward Chantz Petruic redirected a slap shot from the point into the top corner, recording his first career Huskies goal.
Less than two minutes later, another first-year forward came in clutch. Zane Franklin controlled Ball’s feed from behind the net and made no mistake as he sent it to the top corner — Merlis Belsher Place erupted in cheers for the game-winning goal.
Saturday’s game against the Cougars in Regina was postponed due to the Cougars recording multiple positive COVID-19 cases. The game will be played at a later, undetermined date.
The Huskies posted a 6-2 record in the preseason, and this resilient victory in front of the home crowd is a promising sign that their dominance from the preseason can translate into the regular season.
Women’s Hockey vs. Regina Cougars
The Huskies women’s team opened their season on the road against the Cougars in Regina, managing a thrilling 3-2 win after the Cougars mounted a comeback early in the third period.
Second-year forward Kate Ball opened up the scoring, with her wrist shot sliding past the Regina goalkeeper’s five-hole into the back of the net. Third-year forward Kara Kondrat added another goal in the first period to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead.
Although the Cougars came back to even the game at 2-2, third-year forward Kennedy Brown delivered the game winner with just six minutes left in the game.
Saturday night was a similar story for the Huskies, who won again against the Cougars 3-2 in the home opener at Merlis Belsher Place. The Huskies dominated possession through the first two periods, with first-year forward Jasper Desmarais recording her first career goal early in the first period.
Third-year forward Sophie Lalor converted a wrist shot on the powerplay in the second period, with third-year forward Jordyn Holmes rounding out the scoring with her backhand goal.
The Cougars shocked the crowd of 626 fans in the third, scoring two straight goals in less than a minute to start the period. However, the Huskies remained composed and defended their one-goal lead until the end.
Goalkeeper Camryn Drever has stepped into the starting role for this season after veteran goalkeeper Jessica Vance graduated this past year. Drever was a standout this weekend, as she stopped a penalty shot in the second game and made 50 total saves over both games.
Up next, the Huskies face the Manitoba Bisons in a two-game homestand at Merlis Belsher Place on Oct. 29 and 30.
Uday Chhina | Sports and Health Editor
Photos: Nicholas Saretzky | Contributing Photojournalist