EDMONTON – The No.1 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team skated to a 3-1 victory on Friday night over the No.7 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies at Clare Drake Arena.
Sophomore forwards TJ Foster and Jamie Crooks both scored for the Bears, while Travis Toomey added an empty netter. Fifth-year goaltender Kurtis Mucha made 31 saves for the victory. Alberta is now 6-1-0 on the season and tied for first in Canada West along with the Mount Royal Cougars.
Saskatchewan, meanwhile, falls to 4-3 in conference play and is tied for fourth place in the standings. The Huskies lone goal came off the stick of John Lawrence, while veteran goalkeeper Ryan Hofield finished with 30 saves, and the game’s third star. The fifth-year goalie, who is from Leroy, Saskatchewan and previously tended twine with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL, came into the contest with a .941 save percentage and a 1.84 goals against average.
The game was the first regular season tilt between the two historic rivals since the 2014 CIS championship game, which Alberta won 3-1 in Saskatoon for their 14th national championship banner.
On Friday night in Edmonton the two teams combined for a highly entertaining opening period, featuring great chances, better saves and 28 combined shots.
The Bears, however, opened the scoring at 8:15 when former Edmonton Oil King T.J. Foster tipped a point shot from Jarrett Toll past Holfield.
Mucha then did his part, stopping Saskatchewan on a number of point blank chances as Alberta took three first period penalties. The Huskies peppered the veteran goalie with 13 shots, but after 20 minutes of play, Alberta still held the 1-0 lead.
They doubled their advantage early in the second period when the Crooks buried his second of the season just 2:26 into the middle frame. The second period, however, didn’t have the same buzz as the first as both teams settled into a routine of careful defence. The Bears managed to preserve their lead through 40 minutes, and headed into the final stanza up 2-0
In the third period Saskatchewan cut their deficit in half when Lawrence tapped in a one-timer while on the power-play. It was the defenceman’s first goal of the season. The Huskies then carried the play for the balance of the third, but never really threatened Mucha again, despite earning another chance with the man advantage with less than three minutes to go in the game.
Toomey, with a dish from Levko Koper, salted the game away in the final seconds with a breakaway empty net goal.
Saskatchewan finished one for five on the PP, while Alberta did not convert on either power-play opportunities. The shots finished 32-32.
The Bears and Huskies will clash again on Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena, this time with a puck drop of 6:00 p.m. MT.