Cougars don’t leave home empty-handed
Men’s hockey team splits opening games against the Huskies
Although the Cougar Men’s hockey team could not get much younger, it appears as though they will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
The Cougars went on the prowl and got their first Canada West win this past weekend, while they broke in their new home of the Co-operators Centre. Unfortunately, the big first win did not come on Friday. Even though the hometown boys were badly out-shooting the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, they just could not put one past Huskies goalie David Reekie and as a result lost the contest by a score of 2-0.
Returning Cougars forward Linden Wilcock, who was out with injury, thought that “David Reekie had a solid performance in net, which was a factor.”
The Cougars came back to redeem themselves on Saturday against the Huskies, getting their first “W” by a score of 2-1. Terrance DeLaronde and Cody Gross scored the goals. Regina was kept off of the score sheets until the final frame when DeLaronde tied the game up. Cody Gross then came to Regina’s rescue as he took a back door feed from Matt Strueby on the power play to light the lamp. After the win, multiple players stated that “it feels good to get that first win out of the way”.
Cody Gross will be one of the many young guns that the Cougars will be counting on to step in and perform immediately. However, the team will also need help from the veterans. Regina’s top goal-scorer, Craig “Cutter” Cuthbert will be returning with the Cougars after a stellar rookie season in which he led the team in points with 16 in 28 games.
Although the roster is young to say the least, the majority of the Cougars players are highly skilled, many of which are joining the Cougars after stints in the Western Hockey League. Matt Strueby and Brett Leffler are both highly skilled forwards coming to the Cougars after spending multiple seasons with the Regina Pats. Both players deserve more looks from scouts. Although they may not have blazing speed, their work around the net and their willingness to battle in the corners is top notch. The Pats duo already has chemistry and is sure to see lots of ice time with the Green and Gold this season.
Other notable rookies are Tyler Penny and AJ Whiffen, who are both coming to the Cougars after playing together in Weyburn. Tyler Penny is coming off of his best season with the Red Wings, having scored 46 points in 57 games last season while Whiffen had the best goals against average in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League at 2.26 and the second best save percentage at .924. Whiffen will be battling against Shayne Barrie for the backup spot to returning goalie Adam Ward, who was named the player of the game on Saturday. Also coming to the Cougars from the SJHL is defenceman Jordan Reeve, who piled up 20 points in 27 games in his last season with the Melville Millionaires.
The Cougars were ranked 6th in the conference based on a preseason coaches’ poll. They will be back in action on Friday and Saturday, when they will make the trek to Manitoba to take on the Bisons. This will be a good test for the Cougars, as they will look to get their first road win against a team who were ranked 2nd in the preseason poll.