Huskies take down hungry Cougars in overtime thriller

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SASKATOON – Levi Cable’s game winner 1:35 into the second overtime frame was enough to give the University of Saskatchewan men’s hockey team the victory over the Mount Royal Cougars by a score of 1-0 on Friday, Feb. 1 at Merlis Belsher Place.

Cable’s game-winning goal was set up by a terrific backcheck, as he  broke up a Cougars two-on-one and from there the fourth-year forward led an odd-man rush the other way, Cable slid the puck up ice to Jesse Forsberg who set up the give-and-go and tucked it back across to the Hudson Bay, SK native tapped in the winner.

Taran Kozun stopped all 14 shots in the win for the Huskies, extending his shutout streak to 212:24 in the process which now dates back to their win on Saturday, Jan. 19 in Lethbridge.

Riley Morris did everything he could to keep Mount Royal in the game, with the rookie netminder turning aside 42 of 43 shots on the night.

With the win, Saskatchewan moves to 22-3 and tightens their grip on first place in the Canada West in their chase towards locking up home-ice for the entirety of the postseason. Meanwhile, Mount Royal falls to 11-9-5 with their fifth-consecutive loss.

Five minutes into the game, the Huskies were presented with their first quality scoring opportunity as Cable slid a cross-seam pass across to Kohl Bauml, who ripped a one-timer on net, but it was kicked aside by Morris. Moments later, Michael Sofillas spotted a streaking Cable, who was looking for his sixth point in the last three games, as he beat the defenseman wide and cut hard to the cage, but Morris was able to knock the puck away from the fourth-year forward with the poke check.

Saskatchewan controlled play for the majority of the opening frame, outshooting Mount Royal 13-3. However, the visitors were able to limit the high-quality chances in the first 20 minutes.

The Cougars were looking to get on the board early in the second period, as Jamal Watson broke into the zone and barrelled down on Kozun. However, the netminder flashed the leather on the third-year forward’s wrister to keep to the game locked up at zeroes.

The play went the other way, with Saskatchewan entering the zone on a three-on-one, and Alex Forsberg elected to keep the puck, but his wrister zinged off the iron.

The Cougars connected on a post of their own moments later, as the play started to open up in the frame. Colton Kroeker, the second-leading scorer among rookies in the Canada West, had his shot tipped in front of the cage by David Stephens, but despite the puck sneaking past Kozun it caromed wide of the net.

With just over five minutes remaining in the second period and Saskatchewan on the powerplay, Shirley was set up in the slot, but his one-timer rang off iron. The Huskies continued to dial up the pressure when Sofillas snuck behind the defense and broke in alone, but his backhander was stopped by Morris. The hosts kept throwing flurries of chances on Morris, as Ruopp stepped up into the zone and his wrister hit the hosts third post of the frame.

Mount Royal was able to escape the second period with the game still scoreless, despite Saskatchewan outshooting the visitors 14-5 in the frame.

One of the lone scoring chances in a more controlled start to the third period, came when Carter Folk walked through a pair of defencemen but Morris was able to shut the door to keep the game scoreless.

With under a minute to play in regulation, Morris was able to stand tall and stop a pair of grade-A scoring opportunities from inside the slot off the sticks of Wyatt Johnson and Shirley, which sent the game to overtime.

Saskatchewan had the best chance of the first overtime frame, as Bauml spotted Cable who terrifically knocked the puck down and broke in one-on-one on Morris, but the netminder was able to get just a piece of the wrister to knock the puck out of play.

Mount Royal responded with the first chance of three-on-three when Jesse Lees drove hard to the cage, but Kozun made the save and followed it up by shutting the door on Connor Chartier’s rebound opportunity.

The Cougars were looking for the winner late in overtime as they hopped onto the two-on-one. However, Cable made a terrific play to get a stick in the lane of a cross-seam pass. From there, Cable wheeled the puck up ice and fed it over to Jesse Forsberg, who patiently waited for the play to develop, before sliding a cross-crease pass back to Cable who made no mistake and sent the Saskatchewan fans home happy.

Saskatchewan will take on the Mount Royal for the second time in as many nights on Saturday, when the Huskies will look for their eighth-straight victory.