EUGENE, Oregon - Who would have thought that a combined total of 30 goals would be scored, one big bench clearing brawl that would see eight players (including two goaltenders) get ejected / suspended for the next game, and an off-ice post game incident would sum up the University of Washington Huskies Hockey Club’s weekend.
All that plus securing the I-5 Cup title for the tenth time in the history of the 16-year rivalry for the trophy between the two schools.
The Huskies came back home to Seattle early Sunday morning after sweeping the Ducks to improve to 14-10-1-1 overall. The Oregon weekend series was also the final set of Pacific-8 Hockey Conference games of the regular season as Washington finished at an amazing 10-1-1 mark.
Washington 8, Oregon 6 (Friday; Huskies clinch I-5 Cup, 2-0-1
The night belonged to freshman center Christian Cinderella (Samammish), who scored four goals including the empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining as Washington clinched the I-5 Cup title.
Oregon jumped out to an early 2-0 lead with Jake Yale (3:46) and Zach Foss (power play at 6:48) before Ducks forward Michael Luke took back-to-back interference penalties. Oregon was able to kill off the first penalty, but during the second penalty, Cinderella would start the Husky scoring. His first goal on the power play at 18:38 went unassisted and cut the lead the Duck lead in half at 2-1 going into the locker room. It would begin a four-goal outburst for the Huskies going into the second period.
Freshman defenseman Ryan Jaromin (Arlington) would tie the game at two at the 3:34 mark of the period. Cinderella would score two more to earn the hat trick within a 2:09 span, giving the Huskies the 3-2 lead at 7:41 and extending it to 4-2 at 9:50. After a Nick Sciabarra goal cut the lead down to 4-3, senior left winger Alex Black (Boulder, Colorado) would score from freshman center Tavin Jackson (Point Roberts) to go back up two goals at 5-3.
The game started getting physical between both clubs past the halfway mark of the hockey game. Four out of a total of five players received roughing minors in the period, with four players [two per team] serving those coincidental minors at 11:50.
Oregon would score two more power play goals, one to close out the second period. After a Jaromin tripping minor, Terran Donnelly would the put the puck past Husky freshman goaltender Jeff Miles (San Diego, California) at 16:36 to cut the lead down to 5-4. After the Huskies received a bench minor for too many men on the ice early in the third, Trevor Shott would score at 2:26 to tie the game at five.
But immediately after the goal was scored, Cinderella went to his own bench to celebrate with his teammates before one of the Oregon players pushed him into the Husky bench, sparking up a huge melee between both benches. Freshman forward Mason Friedman would commit a high sticking penalty putting the Ducks back on the power play for the third consecutive giving them a huge advantage to take the lead for the first time since the first period. But Jackson would give the Huskies their lead back at 6-5 on a short-handed breakaway that turned out to be unassisted. Harrison Landers would tie the game for Oregon at 6-6 before sophomore forward Joe Kinkopf (Lake Forest Park) helped Washington go right back up, this time at 7-6.
Ducks goaltender Jackson Howery was pulled from the crease with exactly one minute remaining in regulation and with Oregon applying pressure on the Husky defense, Washington was able to get the puck out of the Duck zone with Friedman going all out on an empty-netter that he missed with the puck hitting the side of the net. Jaromin stopped the puck from crossing the blue line in the Oregon zone slapping the puck but it went wide. The Ducks wondered why there was no offside.
Then Cinderella got the puck in the neutral zone, which is where he would shoot the puck into the empty net with 18 seconds remaining in the game. He would race over to his bench to start the celebration for Washington’s tenth I-5 Cup title in the club’s history in the 16-year rivalry between the two schools. Cinderella said his intent was to celebrate with his teammates and coaches at the bench.
"One of their players actually skated next to our bench, touching the bench looking at me and that’s when I received a cross-check to the back", said Cinderella prior to Saturday night’s conference regular season finale. "Now after that, I’m face down on the bench and I’m not seeing what’s going on. So when I get up, I see Troy Gasser defending himself against four Ducks and I also see Cory Tung trying to defend me on the bench."
Meanwhile, while the fight was taking place at the bench area, Howery decided to instigate a fight with Miles sparking up a match between the game’s starting goaltenders. In all, seven players were sent off to their respective locker rooms for fighting. Cinderella, Friedman, Gasser, and Miles were assessed fighting majors for Washington, while Joe Hoover, Howery, and Luke were also given the fighting majors. Shott was assessed a match penalty for verbal abuse to an on-ice official.
All eight players, who were received their respective major penalties at 19:42 of the third period, received automatic game disqualifications, forcing them to miss Saturday night’s game. Gasser received a two-game suspension due to his previous game disqualification with his contact to the head penalty at Northern Colorado back on January 14th.
Washington 11, Oregon 6 (Saturday)
After both schools went into the locker room tied at 4-4 after 40 minutes, the Huskies would have a repeat performance like last season’s conference regular season finale when they played at home against California. Washington would score seven goals in the third period to bury the Ducks and sweep at Oregon for the first time since the 2011-2012 season. Sophomore forward JD White (Kenmore) tied the game late in the second period (17:52) carrying the Huskies out into the third period by helping them score seven unanswered before Oregon would score one more meaningless goal. Senior forward Cory Tung (San Francisco, California) would cap off the scoring on the power play at 18:47 as Washington would score eight goals in the final 22 minutes of the hockey game.
Graduate student goaltender James Feldman (Anchorage, Alaska), who took over for Miles in the final 18 seconds of Friday’s game, started in goal and finished the regular season with a 6-0-0-1 record. Ben Green, who took over for the suspended Howery, took the loss.
Black, Jackson, and White would each tally up two goals. Freshman forward Devin Garg (Lake Oswego, Oregon) played his first game in his adopted state after suffering an upper body injury last weekend in Colorado, and surprised his family in attendance by scoring back-to-back goals within 57 seconds in the third period.
Sciabarra would score two goals for the Ducks.
HUSKY HOCKEY NOTES
- Head coach Matt Cleeton was keeping a close watch to any other notification from both the American Collegiate Hockey Association as well as the Pacific-8 Conference in regards to Friday night’s game. Prior to departing to the rink for Saturday’s contest, Gasser was notified by Cleeton that he, by ACHA rules, would sit out for two games. He did not play in Saturday’s game and will not play on Friday night at home against Portland State.
- Sophomore forward Keenan Smith (Kirkland) was forced to sit out Saturday night’s game due to concussion-like symptoms he suffered during Friday night’s game. Smith said that a Ducks player "just chipped the puck into the (Husky) zone and he caught me with my head down and caught me in the chin pretty good and the rest is history." Smith, who assisted on Cinderella’s second goal in the Cup-clinching win, is very optimistic he will play on Friday night.
- Washington’s sweep over the Ducks completed its PAC-8 conference schedule. In all, their conference record concluded at 9-2-1, a major improvement from last season’s dismal 5-11-0 record (two of those five wins were forfeits by WSU in 2014). This was the Huskies’ best conference record since they went 9-0-1 in the 2010-2011 season; 12-2 the following season (2011-2012).
SENIORS HELP CLOSE OUT REGULAR SEASON THIS WEEKEND AT OLYMPICVIEW
The Huskies will close out their regular season schedule with two home games starting tonight against the Portland State University Vikings, a team that Washington swept in Portland back in November. Freshman goaltender Debbie Chen, who made the trip to Eugene last weekend, earned her first win of her young career against PSU. Chen is expected to play at least one of the final two regular season games this weekend in her first home appearance all season. She may have another opportunity to earn another win against the Vikings.
It will be a fight to the finish atop the team scoring title as Jackson has a three-point lead over Black (43-40). Jackson leads the team in goals (26) while Black leads in assists (25).
It is also Senior Weekend at Olympicview Arena as the Husky fans will prepare to say goodbye to Black, Feldman, Kawcak, and Tung. The four players will be honored alongside with their family and friends on Saturday night prior to the 8 pm faceoff. Black, who will play game #100 of his Husky career tonight, wore #15 in his freshman and sophomore seasons before converting over to #9 on his jersey in his junior season. Tung joined the Huskies hockey club last season while Kawcak and Feldman came on to play for the team in the 2013-14 season. Feldman, who came on the club as a graduate student studying law, was splitting time in goal and as a defenseman. He played 12 games along the blue line and earned two penalty minutes.
Here is a look at the grand totals of each player heading into their final set of home games of their careers: