Lions men’s hockey season ends in heartbreaking overtime defeat

Lions Men's hockey
Lions Men’s hockey

The York University Lions men’s hockey team suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 overtime defeat to the Saskatchewan Huskies in their quarter-final game at the 2017 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup in Fredericton on March 17. This ends the Lions’ season.

Lions hockey

The Lions, who earned the third seed at the championship after winning their first Ontario University Athletics (OUA) title in 13 years earlier in March, battled hard against a Huskies team that was ranked among the top four nationally all season but seeded sixth in Fredericton after losing in the Canada West final.

Rookie goaltender Mack Shields, a Saskatoon native facing his hometown team, was outstanding in net and named York’s player of the game. He made 31 saves, including 13 in the first period and 14 in the second, but was beat by Saskatchewan’s Levi Cable 1:01 into the extra frame to take the loss.

The Lions had the best chance of the first period in the final seconds, when Daniel Nikandrov (Richmond Hill, Ont.) had a wide open cage, but Saskatchewan netminder Jordon Cooke, the two-time reigning U SPORTS goaltender of the year, somehow stopped the puck.

Shields was up to the task for the entirety of the regulation. He made two point-blank saves in the first period and a tremendous glove save at the end of the second to take away the Huskies’ best chances.

The Huskies dominated the first period, but the Lions weathered the storm and picked up their pace in the second. Defenceman Derek Sheppard (Ajax, Ont.), this year’s OUA West most valuable player and top defenceman, had a glorious chance in the second on a breakaway while killing a penalty, but he hit the puck off the side of the net.

Both teams were more hesitant in the third, with only 12 total shots, before the Huskies ended it just 61 seconds into overtime.

The Huskies now advance to the U SPORTS semifinals on Saturday afternoon against the winner of the second Friday quarter-final between the StFX X-men and McGill Redmen.