Vikings Hockey Editorial: Post-Season Crystal Ball
Posted on February 29, 2016 by Jadene Mah
By Earl Thompson As the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Men’s Hockey playoffs approach, it’s time to evaluate the Vikings’ regular season and look in to our crystal ball to see how they shape up for the post-season. A successful regular season saw the Vikings post a 19-8-2-3 record, which included an impressive 11 game …
By Earl Thompson
As the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Men’s Hockey playoffs approach, it’s time to evaluate the Vikings’ regular season and look in to our crystal ball to see how they shape up for the post-season.
A successful regular season saw the Vikings post a 19-8-2-3 record, which included an impressive 11 game winning streak. These results, good for second place in the league, earned them a first round playoff bye. Led by Head Coach, Blaine Gusdal, now in his eighth season at the helm, the Vikings have medaled for six straight seasons. An achievement no other team in the league can say, and look to win it all for the first time since that memorable 2011-12 season when they defeated NAIT in a thrilling three-game series. Asked to assess his team’s chances in the post season, Coach Gusdal said, “I like our team when we play like a team. This is not the deepest team we’ve ever had, so we can’t rely solely on 1 or 2 guys, or great goaltending to be successful, but I really like our team.”
Led by the high scoring line of left winger Connor McLaughlin (20G, 16A, 36 pts), centre Scott Swiston (7G, 14A, 21 pts), and right winger Jeff Lorenz (5G, 15A, 20 pts), this team can certainly put the puck in the net, as they were third in team scoring. Rookies who impressed during the season include centre Evan Warmington, centre Lucas Biensch, defenseman Cody Fiala and goaltender Curtis Skip. Veteran D-men Dylan Coupal (2G, 7A, 9 pts) and Tanner Korchinski (8G, 7A, 15 pts), lead the defensive core, however, the team has been guilty of running around at times in their own end, and will have to shore up that part of their game if they want to go deep in the playoffs. Goaltending has proven to be a positive with Harry Fredeman (9-3), Andy Williams (6-4-1) and Curtis Skip (5-4) sharing those duties. All three have a GAA under 2.40 with a combined .925 SV%, the second best in the ACAC.
Coach Gusdal put it best by saying, “When we’re not “on” as a unit, things get magnified. We have to play as a unit to be successful. Once we clinched 2nd place we got complacent. We have only been average the last 8 games, and we’re not good enough to be successful by being average.” Gusdal’s point is well taken as the Vikings went 1-5 in their final 6 games of the regular season. Gusdal and his staff have an extra week to prepare the troops before playing their first playoff game at home on March 11 or 12 against an as yet unknown opponent. Given his history, Gusdal will have his team prepared.
Graduating players, Tanner Korchinski, Dane Bonish, Alex Rodgers, and Kevin Lourens are all looking to end their college careers on a winning note, but a lot of preparation needs to be done for that to happen. Winning a championship is no easy task, but, the Vikings have a real shot at bringing home another medal, hopefully the same colour of the one they won in that epic 2011-12 season.
Game 1 – Friday, March 11th @ 5:00 PM (EnCana)
Game 2 – Saturday, March 12th @ 7:30 PM (EnCana)
Game 3 – Sunday, March 13th @ 2:00 PM (EnCana)*if neccessary
Look for updated Vikings playoff information at vikings.ualberta.ca or call 780.679.1540.
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