Mount Royal Remembers
Cougars put on a show for veterans
By Dan Khavkin, Staff Writer
Coming off back-to-back defeats against the prestigious Alberta Golden Bears, the Mount Royal Cougars faced off against the Saskatchewan Huskies, the second ranked team in the nation, on Nov. 4-5.
This wasn’t any regular ol’ game for the Cougars. It was the annual Mount Royal Remembers Night. Both teams took part in a Remembrance Day ceremony prior to puck drop where soldiers were commemorated, a live marching band played the national anthem and a ceremonial puck drop ensued. To top it off, the game featured the Cougars coolest looking jerseys, their exclusive once-a-year digital camo jerseys.
Ironic, since the theme of the game was the Huskies unable to find Cougars players to cover for most of the night. A strong second and third period propelled the Cougars to a commanding 6-0 win, backstopped by Colin Cooper who managed all 25 shots for his first shutout of the season.
The tone was set early, as both teams flew out of the gates as the young and quick U of S team started controlling play early and kept Mount Royal pinned in their own end. The Cougars didn’t get their first shot until six minutes of play had passed.
The first period however, ended in serious controversy as Cougars’ defenceman Emerson Hrynyk hit a Huskies’ player from behind as he turned his back in the dying seconds of the period. Hrynyk was automatically ejected from the game and gave the Huskies a five-minute power play to start the second frame.
The misconduct was met with a huge outburst from the Cougars’ bench and the crowd. The referees were not shy to use their whistles throughout the game, mostly in the favor of the Huskies.
The aggressive and dirty play picked up from there, the players were chirping at each other any chance they got and the mouthing of expletives only progressed throughout the game.
Mount Royal stuck together and kept their focus, slowing down the red hot Huskies. Mount Royal managed to kill off all five Husky power plays while lighting them up on the other end not once, not twice but a total of six times. Four of which came in the second period.
Every goal came more exciting than the last. Most goals came from quick breakouts and counterattacks, such as the first of the game when Jamal Watson started a second period breakout, picking the puck up and moving it up to ex-Hitmen Connor Rankin who sent a bullet of a pass over to Cam Maclise for an easy tap-in.
The second saw Luke Simpson pick apart the Husky defense, splitting two defencemen after pick-pocketing them deep at the oppositions blue line. He came in and snapped the shot home before the goalie could react.
Jesse Lees stepped up to score a goal of his own after a gritty fore-check and good team movement. The puck landed on the defenceman’s stick and snapped it to the top corner.
Jamal Watson took matters into his own hands, scoring a spectacular solo goal, holding the puck for close to 30 seconds and shielding off players before walking into the slot and going bar-down.
The fifth goal was all Colin Cooper who denied a Husky 2 on 1 with a highlight reel splits save which lead to a 3 on 2 rush on the opposite end finished off by David Stephens. Cooper’s reaction was one where he thanked the Man upstairs, kissing his glove and pointed upwards, shades of James Reimer.
Captain Matt Brown finished off the rout with a goal, giving him five on the season as the Cougars looked forward to the rubber match scheduled for the next night.
Cooper was named first star of the game, improving his record to 5-1-0 and finished the contest in fourth place in the country in terms of goals against average.
The next game was one to forget for the Cougars.
As expected, the Huskies came back harder and stronger than the night before, looking for some revenge after suffering their worst defeat of the season.
After a tight first period, where Brown chalked up another goal to his name, the Huskies scored five in a row, beating the Cougars 6-2 and created some separation between the rest of the pack in the Canada West conference.
Cooper got the yank at the start of the final frame, being replaced by Cam Lanigan who didn’t have the greatest relief appearance, stopping five of seven shots.
The Cougars now sit 5-3-0, good for third place, as the Golden Bears picked up a W, while the two Crowchild schools dropped their return matches.
Mount Royal are now set to face favorable match ups on the schedule, next on the list is another weekend set against the other Saskatchewan school, the Regina Cougars, who are sit in Canada West’s basement.