The NAIT Ooks Men’s hockey team won a thrilling semi-final series against the Augustana Vikings, which was capped off with a 3-1 win in game three at the NAIT Arena.
The Ooks came out a little slow in game one of the series, and couldn’t solve an incredibly hot Curt Skip, who made 45 saves in the Vikings win. In game two, the Ooks offense woke up and they put four on the board, avoiding elimination and sending the series back to NAIT.
The team had to really dig in and battle, something that Head Coach Tim Fragle thinks could benefit the team. “We had to play desperate hockey in game two and game three, and that can only help prepare you for a championship series” explained the Ooks Coach.
In game three, they grabbed hold of the lead less than 30 seconds in with defenseman Tyler Kunz throwing one blocker side. The Ooks would throw two more past the blocker of Curt Skip and chased him from the game. The Ooks never surrendered that lead and took the series.
That brings us to this weekend, a matchup between two schools that are incredibly close. Not only in the fact that they’re just a 10 minute LRT ride away from one another, but they also finished 1-2 in the regular season with only 3 points separating them.
They faced off four times in the regular season, splitting the games 2-2. The Griffins swept the first weekend early in the season, outscoring NAIT 8-4. The Ooks took both games later on in January, outscoring them 10-6. So yeah, it’s going to be close.
As of late, the Griffins have been scorching hot. After dropping those two decisions to NAIT in January, they haven’t lost a game. That’s eight wins in a row if you factor in their sweep over SAIT last weekend. They’ve been very good as of late.
No doubt the Ooks will have their hands full, but if there is one bright spot to look at, it’s Brendan Jensen. The NAIT backstop faced 116 shots in the past series against Augustana. ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTEEN SHOTS. He only gave up 5 goals. He’s incredible and can single-handedly win this upcoming series for the Ooks, it doesn’t matter how hot MacEwan is.
Some other positive signs that I took from game three on Sunday include the incredible play of Corey Chorneyko. He was awesome on both ends of the rink and did a great job pushing the pace of the game. I was thoroughly impressed with him. Also, the team has been getting some offense from their defenders, which is always a great sign.
How do I look at this series? In a nutshell, NAIT not only has the better high-end talent, they also have better depth up front and have the best goalie in the league. However, MacEwan is incredibly hot as of late. They just swept a very strong SAIT squad, while NAIT could barely escape the 4th seed Augustana. Things will be tight, it’s honestly impossible to predict this series so you should probably just watch it.
If you want to be there, Game One goes Friday at 7 pm at the NAIT Arena. Game Two goes Saturday at 6 pm at the Downtown Community Arena and if necessary Game Three will go Sunday at 6:30 pm back at NAIT.
If you cannot make it to games one or three, you can watch the games over at acactv.ca or listen to them at nr92.com, where I will have your call for both games!
photos via NAIT Athletics