BEARS GET HUSKIES IN GAME 32013-03-03
For the 50th time in program history (108 years, 100 seasons and 77 Canada West seasons), the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team are Canada West men’s hockey champions following a 5-2 defeat of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Sunday night at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton, in game three of their best-of-three series. Alberta won the series opener 5-0, but Saskatchewan scored a come-from-behind 5-4 OT win in game two.
Second-year winger Levko Koper scored a pair of goals in the victory, and team regular season leading scorer Jordan Hickmott had three assists. Torrie Dyck, Kruise Reddick and Johnny Lazo all picked up a goal and an assist, while third-year goaltender Kurtis Mucha, named a conference First Team All-Star earlier in the week, stopped 23 of 25 Saskatchewan shots for his fourth playoff win in five games this season. Lazo, a 2013 Canada West Second Team All-Star, is Alberta’s post-season scoring leader with three goals and three assists in five games.
The Huskies, coming off that stirring 5-4 OT win in game two, got goals from Brennan Bosch and Kenton Dulle, but couldn’t dig themselves out of a 3-0 first period hole. Ryan Holfield was beaten three times on 11 shots in the first period, and gave way to fourth-year David Reekie who stopped 20 of the 22 shots he faced.
After gassing a 4-2 second period lead on Saturday night, and losing 5-4 in extra time, Alberta came out like gang-busters on Sunday, scoring three goals in the opening 12 minutes, including a Canada West playoff record for the fastest two goals when Koper and Dyck scored 14 seconds apart to make it 2-0. Koper’s second of the night, at 12:11 of the first, also set a new Canada West playoff record for quickest two goals by a single player in one period as the Golden Bears, ranked No.1 in the nation, got off to a blistering start that floored Sasakatchewan.
Despite the deficit, the Huskies came out with a better game to start the second as they held Alberta without a shot through the first six minutes of the middle period. But, their inability to generate scoring chances on Mucha stalled the comeback, and Reddick, back in the line-up after missing the semi-final series against Calgary, buried a power-play rebound after Reekie making a nice stop on Hickmott’s attempt, to make it 4-0 at 13:22 of the second.
Lazo made it 5-0 at 9:47 of the third to essentially seal the deal and help Alberta to its 50th W.G. Hardy trophy as Canada West champions.
However, the Huskies, who host the 2013 and 2014 University Cup tournaments, showed no quit whatsoever, as they scored a pair of power-play goals late in the third. Bosch, who had a hat-trick, including the OT winner, on Saturday night, kept his hot hands burning when he beat Mucha from in close to make it 5-1 at 13:24 of the final frame. The fourth-year forward now has seven goals and 10 points in six conference playoff games, including two hat-tricks. Dulle, a third-year forward from Craik, Saskatchewan, made it 5-2 at 14:10 on another power-play doorstep goal.
With the win, Alberta now has 50 Canada West championships in team history, including 12 in the past 17 years. The Bears and Huskies are the only two teams in that time frame to have won the W.G. Hardy trophy, including last year when Saskatchewan won.
The Bears now have a 4-1 playoff record this season after finishing with a 23-4-1 regular season mark. They will advance to the University Cup championship, along with the host Huskies, which runs March 14-17 in Saskatoon.