By Paul Cartledge
January 12, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – Saskatchewan native Kruise Reddick’s game-winning goal with 1:21 left in the third was the difference in an entertaining battle for first place in the Canada West standing.
The No.1 University of Alberta Golden Bears taking a 3-2 victory over the No.4 University of Saskatchewan Huskies in front of more than 2,000 spectators at Clare Drake Arena on Friday night.
Born in Manor, Sask., only a two-hour drive from Regina, the former Tri-City American now has four goals on the year, as well as two game-winners, while third-year rearguard Jesse Craige notched his first tally of the season and two points. Keeping pace with Mount Royal’s Eric Galbraith on the conference leaderboard, former Edmonton Oil King Jordan Hickmott potted his team-leading 13th goal and also chipped in an assist.
Team captain Brennan Bosch and Canada West leading scorer Kyle Bortis each had a goal and a helper while third-year netminder Ryan Holfeld made 37 saves in a losing effort.
The Huskies got on the board first, and quickly, as fourth-year forward Andrew Bailey came down the right wing and wristed a shot from the faceoff circle that Alberta goaltender Kurtis Mucha deflected right to Bosch, who fired it home only 29 seconds into the game.
Another Tri-City alum Johnny Lazo tried to tie the game just under three minutes later, but his shot from the slot hit the far post and despite a 15-8 shot advantage in the opening 20 minutes, the Bears hit the dressing room down 1-0.
On their fifth power-play opportunity midway through the second, however, Craige drew the teams even when he received a Ben Lindemulder pass in the Saskatchewan slot, putting the puck low to Holfeld’s stickside.
Alberta continued to dominate on the shot clock, improving to 28-14 after two periods of play, but Holfeld, the conference leader in minutes played, stood his ground well into the third period before another Bears man-advantage gave Alberta the lead.
Holfeld stopped a booming Craige point shot but the rebound went to Edmonton native Levko Koper at the side of the net, the former Spokane Chief finding Hickmott on the other side, burying the puck into the empty cage at the 8:12 mark of the final frame.
Yet the Huskies replied on a five-on-three at 11:33, Bortis burying Saskatchewan’s first shot of the period on a cross-crease feed from Bosch and making overtime look that much more possible for two squads that have gone there 10 times in their last 20 clashes.
Sophomore James Dobrowolski found Reddick alone in front for his late heroics, though, deking forehand-backhand before sliding the puck underneath Holfeld for the go-ahead goal.
With the extra attacker on, the Huskies did their best to find an equalizer, but a Sean Ringrose block in the dying seconds sealed their fate, currently giving Alberta sole possession first place in the conference.
The Bears finished 2-7 on the power-play while Saskatchewan went 1-4.
Alberta, improving to 15-4, and the 14-5 Huskies will square off in game two of the weekend series on Saturday night, puck drop at 6:00 p.m. MT.