Four-goal first powers Huskies to sweep of Pronghorns

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta — After surrendering a goal in the first minute of the game the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team rebounded with four goals in the first period to help them secure a 5-4 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Jan. 19.

Saskatchewan’s win further secures their place at the top of the Canada West Conference with a record of 19-3-1, while the Pronghorns fall to 7-13-2 and are in a fight with Manitoba for the sixth and final playoff spot.

Kohl Bauml, Logan McVeigh, Collin Shirley, Jesse Forsberg and Michael Sofillas registered the Huskies goals on the night.

Huskies starter Taran Kozun stopped 21 of 25 shots he faced, while Pronghorns netminder Garret Hughson made 36 saves in the loss.

The Pronghorns struck early as centreman Mike Grant would take off from the near-side boards in his own zone, going deep into the Huskies zone to fire a quick snapshot above the blocker of Kozun, giving the home side a 1-0 lead, just 39-seconds into the game.

Despite the early marker, the momentum was fairly even over the next few minutes of play. However, Lethbridge’s Spenser Jensen would interfere with a Saskatchewan player around Hughson’s crease, sending the Huskies to their first power play. Fourteen seconds into the man-advantage, the very hot powerplay would strike again, as McVeigh fired a wrist-shot past Hughson to tie the game.

The Huskies began to walk away with things from this point on, as they scored three more unanswered goals in the first period. On a power-play, McVeigh notched the Huskies’ second power-play goal of the game, assisted by Levi Cable and Sam Ruopp, giving the Huskies the lead. Assisted by McVeigh, Shirley would score 32-seconds later and Jesse Forsberg scored with the help of Bauml and Carter Folk less than two minutes after that.

Saskatchewan tallied four unanswered goals in the frame for a 4-1 lead and doubling Lethbridge on the shot clock 18-9 heading into the first intermission.

Period two would begin once again with the Pronghorns on the offensive, and Torrin White found himself on an odd-man rush with Ryan Chynoweth. White would opt for the rare mid-slot slapshot, and it would find the back of the net underneath Kozun’s glove, to cut the Pronghorns’ deficit by one goal.

The momentum would swing again in favour of the Huskies when Pronghorns forward Dalton Sward took a high-sticking penalty six minutes into the frame, but despite a very high press from Saskatchewan, the Lethbridge penalty-killers stood and prevented any quality scoring chances on the net.

Lethbridge saw the momentum swing in their favour, as Saskatchewan took two quick penalties that gave the home side a five-on-three power play. Following a time-out called by Coach Murray Nystrom, the Pronghorns kept the puck in the zone, as Brooks Maxwell fed Russ Maxwell to the right of Kozun and found a lane to Justin Valentino, who potted the team’s first power play goal of the weekend.

Less than a minute later, the Pronghorns would find themselves tying up the game off of a beautiful one-time pass at the home bench by Justin Valentino, redirecting Blake Orban’s long clear to the slot for Brooks Maxwell, who fired the puck glove-side to tie the game up at four.

A late goal by Michael Sofillas restored the lead for the Huskies, who would head into the break leading by one goal. Saskatchewan would once again outshoot Lethbridge in the frame, this time more than doubling their opponent by 14-6.

The first half of the final frame would appear to be relatively uneventful on the scoresheet, but both teams would continue to press hard for the next goal. Both Kozun and Hughson stood tall on a number of odd-man opportunities to keep their respective teams in the hunt for the win.

Hughson headed to the bench with just under two minutes remaining in the game, as the Pronghorns tried to force an overtime period. Unfortunately for the home side Torrin White was called for roughing in front of the Huskies net, negating any chance of tying the game.

Final shots on goal were 41-25 in favour of the Huskies.

The Huskies will return home next weekend to host the UBC Thunderbirds on Jan. 25 and 26 inside Merlis Belsher Place.

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