Saskatoon, SK- Appearing in the University Cup tournament for the 7th time in the last 8 years, the Saskatchewan Huskies are once again looking for redemption. After having medalled only twice in those 7 appearances, the Huskies are striving to reach the pinnacle of U Sports hockey for only the second time in school history.
Saskatchewan finished second in Canada West, and after a first round bye the Huskies swept the Calgary Dinos in the semi-finals with a couple of 1-goal victories. In the finals they met the fifth seeded University of British Columbia Thunderbirds who upset Mount Royal and the mighty Alberta Golden Bears en route to the finals. The Huskies ended UBC’s Cinderella story run in a 2-game sweep. Saskatchewan will look to put an end to another Cinderella story run when they face off against the 8th seed from the OUA West, and eventual bronze medallist Western Mustangs on Thursday afternoon at 1pm ET.
The 2019/20 season for the Saskatchewan Huskies may possibly be one of the wildest seasons you will ever see in university hockey. After starting the year 0-3-1 the Huskies finished the season on a 22-1-1 run. They finished the regular season on an 11-game win streak and continued their dominance into the playoffs winning another 4 straight to capture their 11th Canada West championship and first since 2016.
It was more than two months ago when Saskatchewan last lost a game and, in a single-elimination tournament, the Huskies are not looking to relive that feeling. A loss in the last few weeks of the season might have been good for the Huskies to remember what it feels like to lose. On the other hand, if you’re this hot you don’t feel like there is much that can stop you, let alone an 11-win team from Ontario. In that case there might not be anything to worry about. With that being said, upsets at this level are not uncommon and the Huskies need to be prepared for whatever the under-dog Mustangs throw at them Thursday afternoon.
Over the last decade history has not been kind to the Saskatchewan Huskies. As mentioned earlier they have appeared at 7 of the last 8 U Cup tournaments but only have 2 medals, both silver, to show for it. Their results over the last 8 years are as follows; 2nd place (2014, 2017), 4th place (2016, 2018, 2019), 5th place (2012) and 6th place (2013). Over the last decade Saskatchewan has continued to have one of the best mens hockey programs in the country but when it comes to competing at the national stage the team struggles to find success when it matters most. Notable losses over the last few years seem to repeatedly come at the hands of University of New Brunswick, St. Francis Xavier and the University of Alberta. However, good news for the Huskies is that StFX and Alberta failed to reach the tournament and a possible match-up with UNB wouldn’t come until the finals. But with 2020 being a new decade and all, let’s see what team the Huskies bring and, who knows, maybe the eighth times the charm?
At the end of the 2019/20 campaign Taran Kozun, the third year goaltender from Nipawin, Saskatchewan sat first among Canada West goalies in wins (17), GAA (1.87), SV% (0.931) and SO (5). To acknowledge Kozun’s season long standout performances, he was awarded with the Canada West Goalie of the Year and Player of the Year honours. With that being said, it’s easy to see why he will be the X-factor for the Huskies at this years U Cup tournament. In order for Saskatchewan to be successful and finally win their first U Sports title since 1983, Kozun might have to steal a game or two or maybe three.
Also worthy of a mention is rookie forward Jared Dmytriw. The Canada West Rookie of the Year finished fourth in the league in points and led all rookies with 10 goals and 18 assists in 28 games played. The 22 year-old native of Craven, Saskatchewan put up 21 points in 22 playoff games last season as captain of the Vancouver Giants (WHL). With lots of WHL playoff experience under his belt, expect Dmytriw to step up this weekend when his team needs it the most.
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