It took some late-game magic from Jamie Crooks, as the fourth-year forward scored in the dying seconds of the third and in double overtime to lead the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team (1-0-0) to a 3-2 win over the Saskatchewan Huskies, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
Rookie Trevor Cox also scored for Alberta in their home and season opener, while first-year Bear Kenny Cameron stopped 31 of 33 shots to earn his first Canada West win. Michael Sofillas and Wyatt Johnson, meanwhile, found twine for Saskatchewan in their first loss of the 2016 season.
Alberta, who lost to the Huskies in last year's Canada West final, got off to a dream start with Cox scoring in the opening five minutes. Despite being shorthanded, the Bears earned themselves possession of the puck in the offensive zone, with Sawyer Lange finding Cox on the doorstep to open the scoring.
Both teams shared decent chances throughout the first, but neither team would add to the scoresheet.
Saskatchewan would finally crack Cameron late in the second period to even the score. Logan McVeigh, who earned the games third star for his performance on Friday, created a turnover behind the Alberta net, before feeding Sofillas in front, who tapped it past a sprawling Cameron.
Johnson added to the Huskie lead early in the third, as he received a chip-pass from a full-speed Josh Roach, before roofing the breakaway shot over Cameron's glove hand.
Alberta, now down 2-1, looked to equalize the game minutes later in the third period, but Jordon Cooke, who made 29 saves of his own, absolutely robbed Stephane Legault on a fantastic feed from Tyson Baillie across the Huskie crease.
After almost ten minutes without a quality chance, the Bears would finally even the game inside the final ten seconds. Despite the Bears not playing with a ton of urgency in the final minutes, consistently being stood up and the Huskie blue line, Crooks was the recipient of a loose puck in the slot following a Sawyer Lange blocked shot, wiring the puck over Cooke to even the game at two.
Neither team would generate much in the first overtime period, sending the game to a second.
After back-and-forth action between the two powerhouses in double OT, Crooks would once again have the puck on his stick in the slot, and in almost the same shot as the game-tying goal, flicked a wrister past Cooke for the OT winner.
These two CIS Top Ten ranked squads will be back in action tomorrow night, with a 6:00 p.m. puck drop scheduled for Clare Drake Arena.