Matt Johnson, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – The University of Saskatchewan men's hockey team picked up their first-ever victory at Merlis Belsher Place in an instant-classic with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Calgary Dinos, on Friday, Oct. 12, at Merlis Belsher Place.
The night marked the first ever Huskies men's hockey game to be held at Merlis Belsher Place, a brand-new facility for the University of Saskatchewan's hockey programs and the teams took the ice in front of a crowd of 2,275 fans.
"They are a really good hockey team and every time we have played them for the last three or four years it has been a one goal game. It could have gone either way tonight," said Huskies head coach Dave Adolph. "Everybody got their money's worth."
Jesse Forsberg, Collin Shirley, Carter Folk and Levi Cable scored for the Huskies, with Folk, Carson Stadnyk and Alex Forsberg chipping in assists.
Meanwhile, Riley Sheen, Cain Franson, Logan Fisher and Graham Black found the back of the net for the Dinos, with Jake Kearley, Jared Hauf, Black and Sheen potting one assist each, while Dylan Busenius added two for the visitors.
Taran Kozun kicked aside 28 saves in the victory for Saskatchewan and also stopped all three shots in the shootout, while Jordan Papirny was strong despite the loss, stopping 45 of the 49 shots he faced on the night for Calgary.
With the win, the Huskies moved to 2-1-0 on the season, while the loss moves the Dinos to 1-1-1.
The Huskies got the home crowd into the game early, as their physical play out of the gate set the tone and and at the 15:30 mark of the first period, Jordan Tkatch spotted Colby Harmsworth who let a one-timer rip from the point, but his clapper connected with iron keeping the game all square.
At the 4:42 mark of the first frame, defenceman Sam Ruopp jumped up into the rush, but his redirection off the saucer pass from Logan McVeigh was kicked aside by Papirny, who made his first big save of the contest.
Moments later the Huskes went to work on the cycle, and McVeigh continued his playmaking ways as he centred the puck for Levi Cable who was stopped once again, in tight by Papirny.
With under a minute to play in the first period and Calgary on the powerplay, the away side was presented with their first prime scoring opportunity of the game as Regan Nagy let a slapshot go from the half wall which got past Kozun, but not the post, which kept the game knotted at 0-0 heading into the first intermission.
It took just under four minutes into the second frame for the goal-scoring drought to come to an end as the Dinos jumped into the zone with numbers and capitalized on a nifty passing play. Kearley and Sheen played give-and-go, with Sheen finishing it off for his fourth goal of the Canada West campaign.
However, it took just 1:05 for the Huskies to respond as Jesse Forsberg led a two-on-one rush. He decided to keep it himself as the Huskies captain went forehand-backhand-shelf to score the historic first-ever goal by a member of the Huskies men's hockey team at Merlis Belsher Place, which equalized the game at one goal apiece.
The second-period scoring fireworks continued as Calgary got one back when Hauf entered the Huskies zone and his pass into the slot was wired home by Franson to put the Dinos back in front 2-1.
However, the Huskies wouldn't go away for long.
They jumped back into the rush hopping on a three-on-two, and Stadnyk drove wide to the cage and neatly dropped back a pass to Shirley, who made no mistake in beating Papirny five-hole.
Soon after, the Huskies made it two unanswered to give them their first lead of the game, when Carter Folk broke in alone shorthanded and went high glove side on Papriny.
But with under a minute to play in the second period, Calgary snapped Saskatchewan's momentum when they capped a six-goal frame with a Fisher power-play goal to tie the game at three after two periods of play.
The Huskies were quick to pull ahead in the third period, when just under five minutes into the final frame. Cable stepped into the slot and hammered home the go-ahead goal to put the Huskies up 4-3.
With just over five minutes remaining in regulation, Sam Ruopp's crosschecking penalty proved costly, when Calgary knotted the game up once again with a powerplay blast off the stick of Black.
60 minutes failed to solve anything, sending the game into overtime. However, after both teams traded scoring chances, the extra ten minutes of play still resulted in the teams being stuck at a standstill, bringing on the shootout.
Shirley led it off for Saskatchewan, and the sniper made no mistake as he went bar down to put the Huskies ahead.
His goal would stand as the only marker amongst the shooters, as Kozun shut the door on all three of the Calgary shooters, which gave Saskatchewan the victory.
The Huskies will host the Dinos for the second matchup of the series on Oct. 13 at 7:00 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place, with the game available on canadawest.tv.