CALGARY, ALTA, (March 16, 2019) - The SAIT Trojans men's hockey team refuse to let their season end.
With their season on the line yet again, the Trojans responded with a 5-3 win over the NAIT Ooks Saturday night at SAIT Arena to tie their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) best-of-three semifinal series at 1-1.
"It's huge for us. We felt pretty good playing at home in front of that big crowd once again" said Trojans captain, Dean Allison. "Hats off to our penalty kill tonight. It was a penalty-filled game, and our guys put in some work. It was outstanding."
The win comes just 24 hours after SAIT lost to the Ooks 2-1 in Game 1 of the series to put themselves behind the 8-ball.
It was a similar situation to what they faced last weekend when they found themselves down 1-0 in the best-of-three quarter-final series to the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings.
The Trojans went on to win Games 2 and 3 - the first in double overtime, the second in overtime - to clinch the series.
The deciding Game 3 of this series will be played Sunday night at 7pm back at NAIT Arena in Edmonton.
"That first round was important for us - it taught us how to win on the road and win those tight games," Allison added. "We just have to keep it simple and get to the paint, pucks in pucks out like the old cliche goes. We have to forget about this one now and focus on Sunday."
On Saturday, the teams went back and forth with the lead.
SAIT's Parker Evans-Campbell scored just 61 seconds into the game to put his team up before NAIT's Curtis Roach and Devon McAndrews scored within three minutes of each other to put the visitors up.
The Trojans found the equalizer before the period ended when Eric Krienke scored his fifth of the post-season to even the score up at 2-2 after 20 minutes of play.
NAIT took the lead back five minutes into the second period when Dylan Stewart beat Trojans goalie Payton Lee, but that's all they would get.
The Trojans went on to score three unanswered - the first coming on the power play when blueliner Brendan Bartlett scored from the top of the circle, beating Ooks goalie Brenden Jensen upstairs.
Owen LaClare then put the Trojans ahead for good with just under eight minutes left in the game when he drove down the left wing, cut hard to the front of the net and slid the puck under Jensen.
Rock Ruschkowski, who spent the entire night harassing NAIT puck carriers with his relentless forecheck, was rewarded with seconds on the clock, burying the puck into an empty net to put his team up 5-3 and seal the win.
"He's been one of our best penalty killers all season," Allison said. "His hard work has created opportunities for himself offensively as well as drawing penalties from other teams. It was exciting for us to watch on the bench as he iced the game for us."