For those of you Husky fans frustrated by the basketball team’s lack of heart in recent games, allow me to recommend a group of UW students that wear their hearts on baggy, oversized sleeves: the Husky hockey team.
If Lorenzo Romar is looking to breathe life into his struggling ballclub, maybe he should send his players to watch their ice skating classmates in action. These guys play for pride and little else, paying their own fees, raising their own funds, and relentlessly going balls to the wall for nothing but the “Washington” on the front of their jersey.
In attendance for my first Husky hockey game on Saturday night, I couldn’t help but walk away impressed by the play of a group of relative unknowns.
Facing the hated ODBs (Oregon Duck Bastards), the Dawgs helped me relive my memories of Mighty Ducks I, II, and III with inspired play from the moment the puck hit the ice.
Coming off a 4-2 win Friday night over their rivals to the south, the Huskies would take home the coveted I-5 Cup (yes, there is such a thing) with a home sweep over Oregon on Saturday. Alas, a victory wouldn’t come so easily.
Fast forward through sixty minutes of regulation, and the two teams were knotted at five goals apiece.
A back and forth contest, the Huskies were behind 4-2 halfway through the second period when back-to-back goals on consecutive power plays tied the game at four. The teams traded goals in the final frame to reach their 5-5 stalemate. From there, we headed to overtime.
Neither team could find the back of the net in the five-minute extra session, so the game segued into the most climactic scene in sports: the shootout.
The shootout rules at this level are fairly standard. Each team is allowed to choose five different individuals to take their shots on goal, and whichever team makes the best use of their five opportunities and scores the most goals wins. Simple as that.
Without overdramatizing the moment, the Ducks made three of their shots, the Huskies zero. Hence, those Duck bastards won the shootout and the game.
But wait! There’s more.
Even though the Ducks won the game, all they managed to do was tie the season series at two wins apiece (in November, the two teams split a pair of contests in Eugene), meaning the highly sought-after highway hardware had yet to find its home for the year.
Hence, in order to determine winner of the I-5 Cup, we needed…another shootout!
Back to center ice with the same set of rules, only this time neither team could convert any goals in their five opportunities.
The teams then went to a one-and-one situation, where each goal could determine a winner immediately. Much like a baseball game, the visiting team would get a chance to score first. If they did so, Washington, as the home team, would then be forced to counter with a score of their own or the Cup would go to the Ducks. Along those same lines, if Washington, as the home team, scored first, the Cup would belong to the Huskies. Drama at its finest.
After four Oregon misses and three Washington misfires, the Huskies’ Dan Herda took the puck with a chance to put the Ducks away. Wasting no time, Herda attacked the goal at full speed. Deking right, then left, the right-hander juked Oregon’s goalie just outside the crease and flipped a backhanded series-winner into the corner of the goal.
Herda’s teammates, who just minutes earlier had been on the losing end of the battle, rushed the ice and mobbed their freshman forward. A native of Bellingham, Herda took the celebratory abuse in stride.
Though it was Herda who did his best to earn the night’s MVP award, he had a great deal of competition from some of his Husky counterparts.
Wearing No. 45 on his back, sophomore defenseman Daniel Carlson scored Washington’s first goal of the evening. The lefty, a native of Anchorage, pulled a veritable Fulton “One out of five” Reed (let’s face it, I got nothing but Mighty Ducks references) with a powerful one-timer from the weak side.
Goaltender Danny Dougan, a sophomore who, like Herda, hails from Bellingham, cannot go unnoticed for his stellar play at the net. Dougan stepped up when it mattered most, and though the numbers might not reflect it, Oregon outnumbered Washington in the shots-on-goal department by at least two-fold.
Assistant captain Jordan Chernesky, a Canuck from Edmonton, Alberta, managed to get ejected in the third period for delivering an elbow to an Oregon player who probably deserved what he got. Prior to his expulsion, the sophomore had spent most of his night as the team’s resident enforcer, kicking every piece of Duck ass that invaded his personal space.
Forward Tristan Wickliff, a native Seattleite, connected on a breakaway attempt in the second frame. Showcasing blistering speed and a knack for breaking up plays, the junior resembled hockey’s version of Venoy Overton.
In the end, it was a team effort that resulted in a loss, followed shortly thereafter by a win. Not the most typical outcome, but a great one for those of us wearing the purple and gold.
- The Huskies fell to 10-5 in Pac 8 play; Oregon improved to 14-2.
- The Huskies are currently in third place in the Pac-8; Oregon occupies the top spot.
- Naturally, Oregon huddled up during pregame and got themselves going with a “Quack, quack, quack” chant. Clearly, I’m not the only one who watched Mighty Ducks as a kid.
- The arena, which seats 1,200, was roughly three-quarters full for the contest.
- Oregon fans occupied maybe 50 of those seats.
- The girlfriends of Duck players “Duggo” and “Derrick” sat directly behind me throughout the game. I’d say one chick was about a four, the other maybe a five. In looks and I.Q.
- Once again, a special thank you to Derek Johnson and the entire Husky Hockey program for making our trip to tonight’s game possible. Can’t go wrong with free tickets!