Vikings hit their stride against Portage
University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings forward Paul Lovsin is hooked from behind on a breakaway by Portage College Voyageurs defenceman Erik Campbell during ACAC men's hockey action in Camrose on Friday. Lovsin was awarded a penalty shot on the play and scored. Josh Aldrich/Camrose Canadian
Winning was the expectation this past weekend, but the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings hockey team went beyond that benchmark.
That Vikings dominated the Portage College Voyageurs 7-4 on Friday and 13-1 on Saturday in their most dominant weekend of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season. In simplest forms, they showed they were taking their goal of a perfect final month of the season seriously, no matter who they were playing. After all, they had already been caught sleeping once this campaign by the Voyageurs on Oct. 28.
With a shot at second overall and a first-round bye at stake, they could not fall into that trap again.
"As a coach you like to see that, it's fun to watch and it's easy to coach those games," said head coach Blaine Gusdal. "Not because of the scoreboard, but because of the whole complete game by the guys."
The Vikings were in control all weekend. On Friday at home, they posted a 6-0 lead in through two periods and scored on their first shift of the third period before Portage went on a late run. On Saturday in Lac la Biche, Portage had no response for the onslaught.
Ryan Groom and Paul Lovsin both scored twice for the Vikings on Saturday while Joe Olsen, Evan Warmington and Mitch McMullin added singles. On Saturday, McMullin scored five points (two goals, three assists), Adam Osczevski had the hat trick and Dillan McCombie chipped in two goals and two assists. Travis Mayan had a goal and five assists, and defenceman Jimmy Sheehan had a goal and three assists to go with his three helpers from the night before. Groom, Warmington, Lovsin, and Cody Young also scored a goal each.
"To be successful in this league come playoff time, you can't be a two or three line team," said Gusdal. "The competition is too high, the teams are all too good, and you have to be able to put four line on the ice and be comfortable with all of those lines. We feel we have that."
The Vikings were also able to get two goalies into action on the weekend as Zach deGraves made a rare start on Friday, stopping 26 shots, and Curtis Skip made 16 saves in Saturday's win.
Gusdal has similar plans this weekend, except Harry Fredeman will get the start on Friday with Skip getting the other game.
The Vikings host the Briercrest College Clippers (4-16-1-1) in both games this weekend – at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday.
With the sweep over Portage, Augustana managed to climb within two points of Red Deer College (15-6-1-0) for second place. The Vikings (13-6-3-0) are tied with MacEwan (14-7-1-0) in fourth place with SAIT (14-6-1-1) in third. This weekend SAIT and RDC play each other while MacEwan has two games with Concordia (6-14-2-0).
"Right now our focus in Period 1 on Friday night," said Gusdal. "We feel confident that if we control what we can control, we can move up."
_ This weekend is also alumni weekend for the Vikings and they are expecting as many as 30 players from their past to join in the festivities. They will be there for both games against Portage College and suit up in an alumni game on Saturday morning. On Saturday evening there will be their annual pub night at Boston Pizza, featuring live and silent auctions and the music of Mourning Wood. The night is critical to the club as their biggest fundraiser of the season. The alumni association helps fund $15,000 in scholarships for the team as well as equipment and jerseys.
"I would like to think that when most guys leave after their last game they want to leave the program in a better place than when they found it," said assistant coach and alumni president Tyler Bellamy. "I felt I hadn't accomplished that goal and that would be why I'm so passionate about Vikings hockey and why I'm still involved in coaching and through starting up the alumni … I wanted to see (the team) continue to flourish without all of the constraints imposed upon it like being able to buy basic equipment for players."
Tickets for the pub night are available through Bellamy at email@example.com or at the door.