After finishing the season with a league best 26-6-1 record, the Ooks men’s hockey team has earned a birth straight into the playoff semifinals as they look to follow a strong season with a similar playoff push. This season, the Ooks have been looking to once again reach the championship dreams that they barely missed out on last year, after losing in a close, decisive final game against the MacEwan University Griffins.
The Ooks will end up playing the fifth seed U of A Augustana Vikings, whom the Ooks have bested in four games of five. Don’t let the records fool you, though, these teams played tight games this year. Four out of five games were decided by only a goal, two in overtime. The Ooks will look to use a strong defence that only allowed 2.04 goals per game over the regular season to stop the Vikings’ strong offence that scored 4.5 goals per game, led by top scoring forwards Travis Mayan and Mitch McMullin. Mayan finished fifth in the ACAC with 32 points in 28 games, while McMullin finished second in the ACAC, putting in 16 goals in 28 games.
The Ooks will be led by five-foot-seven forward, and leading scorer in the ACAC with 42 points, Jake Mykitiuk. Mykitiuk will be facing tough competition though, as Viking goaltender Curtis Skip boasts a league-high save-percentage at .925. The Ooks will also look to defenceman Ty Stanton to pitch in with scoring while fending off the Vikings highpowered offence. Former Toronto Marlie and first-year player Ty Stanton finished second in the ACAC among defenceman with 29 points.
The Vikings are coming into this series with the momentum, as the Ooks have lost three straight while the Vikings are coming in having won their past four. The Ooks and Vikings will begin play on Friday, March 9 at 7 p.m. at NAIT Arena, followed by an away game for the Ooks Saturday night. If a do-or-die third game is needed, it will go down Sunday night at NAIT Arena, with the winner advancing to the ACAC finals.
– Connor Toffan, Sports Co-Editor