HALIFAX – The University of Saskatchewan Huskies (#2) edged the Carleton Ravens (#7) 3-2, in a thrilling, and record-setting, quadruple-overtime battle, in the first quarterfinal match-up of the 2016 CIS University Cup Thursday afternoon at Scotiabank Centre.
CHAMPIONSHIP WEBSITE: www.universitycup.ca
At 6:11 of the fourth extra session, Parker Thomas picked up a rebound at the edge of the crease and deposited a backhander into an open net to seal the deal for the Huskies.
"I talked to my centre-man before the draw, and told him I was going to drive to the net," Thomas said, in the post-game press conference.
"I got stopped on the first one, but I was able to put the rebound home. I don't remember much after that (laughing)."
With the marathon, the teams made national championship tournament history, playing the longest game of all time, besting a 2002 encounter between the UQTR Patriotes and the then Western Ontario Mustangs.
Western won 4-3 in triple OT, after 43:17 of extra play, on an unassisted goal from Stacey Britstone.
In tonight's game, early in the first period, Jordon Cooke of the Huskies, the CIS goaltender of the year, made back-to-back stellar saves to keep the game scoreless. After making a pad stop on Sean Bamford, the Canada West player of the year snatched a dangerous backhander from Brent Norris, off the rebound, with his glove hand.
On the first power play of the game, Saskatchewan's best scoring opportunity came with seconds remaining with the man-advantage. Kendall McFaull, a Canada West first-team all-star, picked up a loose puck in the crease, but he could not stuff a shot behind Carleton goaltender Patrick Killeen.
At 12:40, on their second power play of the game, the Huskies took a 1-0 lead, when Andrew Johnson found Levi Cable in the slot, who beat Killeen to the stick side with a hard wrist shot. Jordan Fransoo collected the other assist on the marker.
The Ravens outshot the Huskies 12-8 in the first period.
Early in the second period, at 2:10, on a delayed penalty call, and with the Raven net empty for an extra attacker, Norris gathered a puck off a scramble in front, before beating Cooke to knot it at 1-1.
Brett Welychka, the CIS rookie of the year, and Jason Seed tallied the assists.
At 5:57, the Huskies regained their one-goal lead, on the power play, with Kohl Bauml finding the back of the net. The Canada West rookie of the year banged in the puck, after multiple attempts from the edge of the crease, to give his team a 2-1 advantage.
Fransoo and Johnson assisted for the Huskies.
The Ravens battled back, with Welychka scoring the equalizer, with less than five minutes remaining in the second period. At 15:20, after taking a point pass from Jeremie Fraser along the half-wall, he blasted a one-timer under the cross bar and over the right shoulder of Cooke.
Michael McNamee notched the other assist on the power-play goal.
Late in the second period, with the man advantage, Fransoo took a slap shot through a screen, from just inside the blue-line, but Killeen made the glove save to keep the game deadlocked.
The Huskies mustered 16 shots in the middle frame, while the Ravens collected 10.
In the opening three minutes of the third period, the Ravens pressed for the go-ahead goal, but Cooke and the Saskatchewan defense were equal to the task.
Cable almost scored his second of the game for the Huskies, when he darted in off the wing and cut across the crease, but Killeen stuck with the play and made a left pad save, before smothering the rebound.
With just more than five minutes remaining in the third period, Cooke thwarted Joey West, off the rush, with a right pad save.
Moments later, after Cooke turned aside another shot, off a Raven break-in, Ryan Van Stralen banged the rebound wide from the lip of the crease.
With just more than 40 seconds remaining in the third period, Johnson got in alone, but Killeen made the save. On the play, Fraser of the Ravens drew a slashing penalty, so the Huskies started overtime on the power play.
Carleton outshot Saskatchewan 15-9 in the third period.
Early in the extra session, with the man advantage, Saskatchewan came up empty. Jesse Forsberg had the best scoring opportunity, off a point shot, but Killeen smothered the attempt.
Halfway through the first 10-minute OT, McNamee got a great shot away, after pinching in off the blue-line, but Cooke turned it aside. Off the rebound, Fraser snapped a forehand over the net.
A short time later, Corey Durocher made a cross-crease pass to McNamee, who got a shot away, but Cooke made a sprawling pad stop.
With less than 30 seconds left in the first overtime period, Josh Roach took a centering pass in the slot for the Huskies, but he could not beat Killeen.
In the first OT, the Huskies held a 4-3 edge in shots on goal.
In the second overtime period, the Huskies came out with early pressure, including one open-net shot attempt that sailed over the cross bar.
Off the counter-attack, Van Stralen got in behind the Saskatchewan defense, before being hauled down, but Carleton came up empty on the ensuing man advantage.
Midway through the second OT, Roach tested Killeen with a hard wrist shot. After making a glove save, the Raven goalie juggled the rebound, but then reached back to gobble up the puck in his crease, before Matthew Spafford could poke it home for the Huskies.
Moments later, Cooke stoned Welychka from in tight, on a forehand to backhand deke and shot attempt.
Not to be outdone, Killeen later swiped at a high shot with his trapper, deflecting the blast over his net.
After just missing on a re-direction, off a two-on-one rush, Van Stralen was called for goaltender interference, after barrelling into Cooke.
On the power play, the Ravens held on, with Killeen making his best save on an in-tight attempt from Bauml.
With just more than two minutes left in the second extra session, Norris walked out in front of the net for the Ravens and rang one off the goal post behind Cooke.
In the final seconds, Killeen shot out his left pad and blocked a deflection, to keep it tied, and send the quarterfinal game to a third OT session.
In the second OT period, the Huskies outshot the Ravens 16-8.
Early in the third sudden-death session, Roach got behind the Raven defense, but Killeen made a right shoulder save on the Saskatchewan forward's backhander.
Less than five minutes into the frame, Zak Stebner of the Huskies skated in front and challenged Killeen high glove-side.
The teams traded opportunities until midway through the third OT, but both came up empty.
With less than eight minutes remaining, Cameron Blair got in alone, but Killeen turned aside his short-side attempt.
Five minutes later, the Ravens almost ended it, when Norris got in the crease. Although the puck rolled off his stick, it ended up on the blade of team-mate Mitch Zion, but his shot drifted over the net.
Late in the stanza, West broke down the left wing, getting a shot from a sharp angle, which Cooke turned away with his left pad.
In the fourth OT, the teams were playing a tight-checking period before the Thomas heroics.
"We played a really good hockey team," Dave Adolph, Saskatchewan head coach, said, describing it as "not fair" for one of the teams to have to lose the match-up.
"We are fortunate [to win] and we want to take advantage of this opportunity."
Marty Johnston, head coach of the Ravens, said his team "fought right until the end."
"There is not much to say after a loss like that ... they are an excellent group of young men," the former Dalhousie Tigers' player said of his charges.
Cooke made 58 saves for the win, while Killen turned aside 65 shots in the loss.
"That's his job," Adolph said, tongue-in-cheek, when asked about Cooke's performance.
"He has been doing it all year for us."
Cooke said he had "never had a goaltending dual like that."
"We have had a really good year this year and we didn't want it to end," he added.
Thomas was player of the game for the Huskies, while Killeen garnered the honour for the Ravens.
With the win, the Huskies advance to the semi-finals, at noon Saturday, while the Ravens have been eliminated from further tournament action.
Official Boxscore: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mice/2016/championship