September 30, 2012, CALGARY – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies used every last second on the score clock in their Canada West Men’s Hockey opener on Friday, scoring with 0.1 seconds left in the third period to lift the Huskies to a 5-4 win over the host Mount Royal University Cougars Friday night at Flames Community Arena in Calgary.
With the win, the defending Canada West champion Huskies move to 1-0-0-0 on the season, while the Cougars sit at 0-1-0-0.
Kyle Bortis tipped in a Michael Kaye pass with double-zeroes showing on the clock to secure the win – while Saskatchewan also received markers from Garrett Thiessen, Brandon Herrod, Matthew Delahey and Derek Hulak.
Third-year netminder Ryan Holfeld made 18 saves in the win.
For the Cougars, their historic first goal came off the stick of Mike Brown, while teammates Matt Brown, Billy Marshall and Tyler Eskesen were also in on the goal scoring parade. Justin Cote took the loss in net making 23 saves on the night.
It was a tough opening five minutes for the Cougars, playing in their inaugural game in the Canada West and CIS – allowing two early goals just minutes in. Thiessen was the first to score, wiring home a rebound from the slot just minutes in, before Herrod would add his first of the season, completing a pretty tick-tack-toe on the powerplay to jump out to an early 2-0 lead.
After shaking off the early jitters, the Cougars would respond at the 9:47 mark of the opening period, recording their first-ever Canada West goal as Nick Bell fed a pretty saucer pass across the slot to Mike Brown who beat Holfeld five-hole to enshrine his name in the MRU history books. After 20 minutes of play, the Huskies led 2-1.
“I think we were in a little bit in awe for a few minutes during that first period,” said Cougars head coach Jean Laforest. “We let them get that big lead, and after that we chiseled and chiseled away.”
After a scoreless second period, that belonged to the goalies, the Cougars would get on the comeback trail just 30 seconds into the third period.
Forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, former Cowichan Capital product Matt Brown showed why he’s the talk of the town, undressing Holfeld and potting it top corner to cut the lead to one.
Brown’s goal would start of flurry of activity from both sides, as the Huskies would get back on the board four minutes later, as Hulak picked off an errant pass at the blueline and drove in uncontested, freezing Cote with a laser top shelf to restore the lead to 4-2.
The fun wouldn’t stop there though as the Cougars continued to press, notching back-to-back goals just four minutes apart. Defenceman Billy Marshal tallied the first marker, showing off his offensive flair as he snapped home a wrister from the outside the circle, before Eskesen would tie the game at 4-4 off a realatively harmless wrister from inside the blueline that eluded Holfel to force the tie.
The game seemed destined for overtime, but with just mere milliseconds remaining the Huskies would break the deadlock as Kyle Bortis found a spot on the doorstep, tipping in a pass from Michael Kaye from the left boards with no time remaining.
After a brief official’s conference at centre ice, the goal was upheld, sending the home side to showers just a second away from their first Canada West point. The official time of the goal read 20:00 on the game sheet.
Coach Laforest said while the loss was tough to swallow, he was happy with the way his team battled through to the end.
“It’s unfortunate they score as late as they did,” said Laforest. “But if you look what we did overall from the pre-season and carrying it forward, that’s a great hockey club over there that we just took to the wire, I’m disappointed we lost, but I liked the way we fought and competed.”
The Cougars will have another crack at the Huskies as the two teams will meet again at Flames Community Arenas on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Catch the game live www.canadawest.tv