Huskies hustle past Horns
Now is not the time for introductions for the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team.
The Pronghorns were downed 5-2 by Saskatchewan Huskies in Canada West play Friday night at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
The Huskies jumped out to a 3-1 lead after the first period and though the Horns — backed by goaltender Jack Burgart — were able to hold the visitors off the board in the third period, the fourth-ranked USPORTS squad still pumped 62 shots on goal compared to 24 by the Horns.
The Pronghorns drop to 5-131 to sit in last place in the Canada West, while the Huskies are 13-4-2 and in third in the conference.
The plentiful pucks on Burgart aside, another slow start proved to be the Pronghorns Achilles heel.
“That’s been our Achilles heel in a lot of games this year,” said Pronghorns head coach Murray Nystrom. “We’re taking the first 30 minutes, it seems, to feel out our opponent and this isn’t the time of year for that. We should be beyond that and that’s something we’re trying to adjust as a staff and as a team.”
It was 3-1 Saskatchewan by the 11:41 mark of the first as Carson Stadnyk, former Lethbridge Hurricane Carter Folk and Andrew Johnson scored for the Huskies.
Torrin White, with his fourth of the season, pulled the Horns to within two after the first period.
Sam Ruopp paced the Huskies to a 4-1 lead 6:09 into the second, but Horns first-year Luke Coleman scored shorthanded for his eighth of the season midway through the second, grabbing a neutral ice turnover and sliding a backhand past Saskatchewan goaltender Taran Kozun.
“I was kind of lucky, the Dman went to block it and it bounced right to me,” said Coleman. “The goalie came out to play it, so it was easy to look up and go around him.”
Evan Fiala completed the scoring with 4:34 left in the second period.
The teams skated through a scoreless third, but Huskies provided plenty of insurance in the opening 40 minutes to earn the weekend-opening win.
“If you give them a chance they’re to score,” said Coleman. “We didn’t start as hot as them and they came out flying and scored a couple of goals. It’s up to us to be ready to play their level.”
Burgart made 57 saves on the night.
“The positive is we always seem to rebound from those strange starts and finish off the weekend on a positive note,” said Nystrom. “But again, we’re at the time of the year where every game, all 120 minutes, mean a lot. But Saskatchewan earned every inch of ice out there. I thought they were outstanding. They’re hard on pucks, they’re quick and you have to be just about perfect against them regardless of who you are in this league. You have to be on your game from start to finish and it took us too long to get going.”
Coleman leads the Horns with 13 points in 19 games this season.
“Luke has been a real horse for us in that area,” said Nystrom. “He’s had a couple other opportunities aside from the shorthanded one. It seems he’s a threat every night and he’s been a pleasant bonus for us coming in and stepping right now. Sometimes it takes guys time to adjust to the level and the whole university lifestyle and he’s done a great job of that.”
After spending the last three seasons with the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League, the product of Red Deer has enjoyed the jump to the Canada West.
“It’s good, it’s definitely a change,” said Coleman. “It’s nice to have more of a schedule you’re used to and play every weekend.” Tonight’s game is at 7 p.m. at Nicholas Sheran Arena. On the women’s side, the Pronghorns lost 3-1 to the Huskies Friday night in Saskatoon and are now 7-9-0-1 to sit tied for sixth with the 5-10-4-0 Regina Cougars. The Huskies improve to 9-6-1-3 and remain in third. Mila Verbicky scored on the power play midway through the third for her second of the year to make it 3-1, but the Horns were unable to get any closer. Alicia Anderson stopped 23 of 26 shots in the loss. The teams complete the weekend tonight at 6 p.m., local time. The Pronghorns basketball teams return to action tonight as the Calgary Dinos pay a visit to the 1st Choice Savings Centre. Both Dinos teams won the weekend-opener of the home-and-home series Thursday night in Calgary. The Pronghorns men are 4-9, while the women’s team is 6-7. The women’s game is at 5 p.m. with the men to follow at 7 p.m. Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter