Matt Johnson, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – Entering the post-season on a ten-game winning streak, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team continued their dominant play with a 5-1 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars in game one of the Canada West semifinals on Friday, Feb. 22 at Merlis Belsher Place.
Alex Forsberg and Levi Cable each found the back of the net twice for Saskatchewan as the pair of forwards paced the number three ranked team in the nation. Alex Forsberg also added two assists in the win, with his brother Jesse also recordin an assist. Parker Thomas had the other goal for the Huskies, while Colby Harmsworth, Wyatt Johnson, Andrew Johnson, and Logan McVeigh all tacked on assists.
"For the last two years, Parker Thomas, Alex Forsberg and whoever has been playing center with them has been a real tough matchup for anyone we've played in the playoffs," said Huskies head coach Dave Adolph. "Parker and Alex have done a great job; they were a real difference tonight."
Brad Kennedy scored Mount Royal's lone goal on the night, which was his second of the post-season as the Cougars entered the series after a three-game quarter-final series victory over the UBC Thunderbirds. David Stephens and Colton Kroeker added assists on the marker which was scored at the 15:49 mark of the third period.
Taran Kozun was sharp when tested for Saskatchewan. The second-year goaltender turned aside 19 of 20 shots on the night.
Riley Morris was strong all night long, as the netminder performed admirably in the loss and stopped 35 of 40 shots for the visitors.
The Huskies high-powered offence got on the board early in the first period when Levi Cable walked around his defender and shot high glove-side to score the first playoff goal in Huskie men's hockey history at Merlis Belsher Place.
Just under three minutes later, after the Cougars were looking to take advantage of an odd-man rush of their own, the Huskies raced up ice with numbers. The Forsberg brothers orchestrated a beautiful give-and-go, as Alex spotted Jesse who showed tremendous patience to slide it back over to his younger brother allowing Alex to bury the puck into the gaping cage to give Saskatchewan a two-goal lead.
Mount Royal received their best scoring opportunity of the first period on the powerplay. Jamal Watson knocked down a shot right down in front of Kozun, but he was unable to tuck his backhander into the open net.
Alex Forsberg had a great chance to pot his second goal of the night with 1:13 remaining in the frame, as the third-year forward ripped a shot from inside a crowd of bodies past Morris but off the goal-post, which ensured the score would remain 2-0 at the end of one period of play.
The Huskies outshot the Cougars 14-6 in the opening frame.
Saskatchewan wasted no time in the second period as they continued to build on their lead. With a cluster of bodies piled up in front of the Cougars cage, it was Thomas, the fifth-year forward, who found the puck and shoveled it home to make it 3-0.
Saskatchewan continued to dial up the scoring opportunities, as a stretch pass sprung Collin Shirley in all alone on Morris, but the rookie netminder made one of his best saves of the night as he flashed the leather to keep his team within three.
However, the Huskies continued to barrage Morris with scoring opportunities and were eventually rewarded for their efforts. Andrew Johnson fed the puck inside the slot to Alex Forsberg, who re-directed the pass and chipped it over the shoulder of Morris into the back of the net to extend the host's lead to four.
Saskatchewan outshot Mount Royal 16-6 in the second period and was able to take a commanding lead into the final 20 minutes of play.
The Huskies extended their lead just 4:10 into the third, as McVeigh forced a turnover inside the Cougars zone and spotted Cable, who fired the puck home to keep the goals coming.
Mount Royal was finally able to solve Kozun with 4:11 remaining in regulation, after beautiful puck movement on the powerplay allowed Stephens to spot Kennedy who was left wide-open at the side of the cage and the fifth-year forward made no mistake to make it 5-1.
The Cougars will fight to stay alive when they look to force a game three tomorrow night in Saskatoon, while the Huskies will look to punch their ticket to the Canada West Championship and University Cup with a victory to seal the series sweep.
That game gets underway at 7 p.m. and can be watched live on canadawest.tv.