Huskies 8, Spartans 3
Some young pups led the way Friday as the University of Saskatchewan Huskies opened up Canada West men’s hockey conference play.
Rookies Liam Keeler, with a pair of goals, Cael Zimmerman and Mark Rumsey all scored as the Huskies broke open a 1-1 first period deadlock on their way to a convincing 8-3 victory over the Trinity University Spartans at Merlis Belsher Place.
“Our new guys really stepped up and that’s what we expected — that’s why we got them,” said first-year U of S head coach Brandin Cote, whose Huskies out-shot the Spartans 40-22 and outscored them 4-1 in the second period.
“At the same time, they’re first-year guys. It’s going to take a little bit of a growth period for them as we go play some of the top teams. They’ve been solid for us so far and they led the way tonight.”
Defenceman Shane Collins, who had one goal last season, doubled that with a pair of goals in the season-opener.
“Personally, it’s nice to always get a couple of goals under your belt,” said Collins, who played in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights. “It’s not exactly what I’m known for but I’ll take them when I can get them.
“I thought the game was pretty good. It’s early in the season and we’ve still got lots of stuff to work on. Ultimately, it’s nice to get the job done and I thought there were some really good things we did tonight.”
Second-year Huskie winger Vince Loschiavo and Justin Ball also scored for the Huskies, who went 2-for-7 on the power play.
Keeler scored both of his goals in the second period, including one with less than a second — 0.7 — remaining on the clock.
“With the young guys coming in here, it’s obviously a bit of a learning curve but I know we all want to make an impact right away,” said Keeler, an Edmonton native who played for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels and Edmonton Oil Kings.
“We’re not here to sit back and not help the team. We’re here to make an impact and I felt we did that tonight and we want to continue doing that moving forward.”
Roddy Ross made 19 saves for the Huskies to record the win. Jordan Kooy will get the start Saturday night when the same two teams meet again at Merlis Belsher.
Game-time is 7 p.m.
“After the first there, I think we were just a little wound up, a little tight,” noted Cote. “It took a little bit to get going. Give them credit, too. They played hard. We knew they were going to come in and work.”
Jesse Pomeroy, Joss Mitchell and Daine DuBois replied for Trinity Western, which went 1-for-4 on the power play.
Former Melville Millionaire goalie Berk Berkeliev stopped 23 of 30 shots before being replace by Saskatoon native Isaac LaBelle, who turned aside nine of 10 shots.
“It’s always a little tough the first game of the season with the big ceremonies and stuff before the game,” said Collins. “You end up going 25-30 minutes from warm-ups to the game and it always a bit challenging to get your legs under you and, ultimately, we got through that first period and just enough time to start to get our legs under us and take over.”
DOG TALES: Defenceman Connor Hobbs is the Huskies captain this season, taking over from graduating D-man Gordie Ballhorn. Jared Dmytriw, Evan Fiala and Shane Collins will act as assistant captains … Trinity Western’s line-up includes a number of familiar faces, including Saskatoon products Isaac LaBelle, Michael Spafford, Jarrett Penner and Boston Bird along with Rosetown’s Kolby Johnson and former Humboldt Bronco forward Luke Spadafora.