CALGARY, ALTA., (Jan. 11, 2020) - You know it has been a good night when SAIT Trojans men's hockey coach Tyler Drader fires up the popcorn machine afterwards.
The tasty snack came after his Trojans handed the NAIT Ooks just their second loss of the season, beating them 6-3 in front of a loud crowd at SAIT Arena Saturday night in their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) contest.
"Not only was this win big for us in the standings, but big for us psychologically," Drader said as his assistant coaches dove into the freshly made popcorn. "For us to know that we can play with these guys is huge. It was a good, hard fought game."
SAIT jumps above .500 at 7-6-1-2, while NAIT falls to 14-2.
The win comes 24 hours after the Ooks handed the Trojans a 7-3 defeat in Edmonton, so being able to repay the favour was something the home team relished.
"We started slow on Friday, but actually felt like we won the third period so we wanted to carry that over into tonight's game," said Trojans captain, Colton McCarthy (4th year, Salmon Arm, BC, Geographic Information Systems). "We definitely needed that win, and we feel it will help us going forward. . . Guys are happy and they're buying in right now. It's good to see."
Things did not look good for the home side after 20 minutes of play. The teams went into the intermission with NAIT holding a 2-0 lead on markers by Jared Legien and Ryan Piche.
SAIT responded with three unanswered to start the second period.
Mark Drohan (1st year, Calgary, Academic Upgrading) started it off by firing a shot through traffic that beat NAIT goalie Jordan Papirny for his second goal in as many games.
Taden Rattie (1st year, Airdrie, Alta., Business Administration) knotted the game at 2-2 when he banged in a rebound from in close.
Cory Santoro (3rd year, Kelowna, BC, Bachelor of Business Administration) gave the Trojans their first lead of the game when he drove into the zone, had the puck stripped from him only for it to take a fortuitous bounce and end up back on his stick and then beat Papirny up high.
"In that first intermission, we came in and said, 'Yeah, we're down 2-0, but we're playing pretty well'," explained Drader. "We had two mistakes that they capitalized on, but we had 15 shots. . . We just talked about not being cute and just getting shots and traffic in front of the net, and that's what we did."
The Ooks evened things up with just 25 seconds left in the period when Jordan Davies found the back of the net to send the teams into the second intermission tied 3-3.
In the third, SAIT scored three more times to pull away from the visitors.
Rock Ruschkowski (2nd year, Calgary, Respiratory Therapy) scored the game winner with an easy tip in from in close. Joren Patenaude (2nd year, Calgary, Bachelor of Business Administration) added an insurance marker on a weird angle after missing on several good chances earlier in the game.
"He's probably had about 20, 10-bell chances the past two games, but a little sneaker goes in and that's what we needed," laughed McCarthy.
Erin Krienke (3rd year, Calgary, Bachelor of Business Administration) put the game to bed with an empty-net goal with 2:40 remaining.
Trojans goalie Kyle Dumba (1st year, Calgary, Business Administration), who was pulled after two periods on Friday, rebounded nicely on Saturday and picked up the win following his 36-save performance.
SAIT will now look to keep adding ticks to the win column next weekend when they head to Caronport, Sask., for a pair of games against the Briercrest College Clippers.
In the first semester, the Trojans and Clippers went to overtime twice with SAIT winning once and the other game ending in a tie.
"We can play with anybody we want, if we play as a team and play smart," Drader said of his post-game message to the team. "We just need to continue to build and take it one game at a time."