MOUNTLAKE TERRACE - The senior out-of-state trio of forwards Alex Black (Boulder, Colorado), Bradyn Kawcak (Fort Collins, Colorado), and Cory Tung (San Francisco, California) were introduced out onto the ice at Olympicview Arena prior to pre-game warmups on Saturday night. The home fans saluted the three players to warm applauses for the final time before the University of Washington Huskies played the Portland State University Vikings.
For Kawcak (pronounced as kaw-CHAK), being named the team captain this past summer was a huge personal accomplishment.
"I’m very thankful, very grateful for having people to just support me honestly," said Kawcak, who scored three goals and added an assist in the Huskies weekend series sweep over the Vikings. "I’m very grateful for it."
Black played his 100th & 101st career game for the Huskies this weekend. He earned five points (three goals, two assists) during the weekend against Portland State, whom the Huskies swept in all four of their regular season meetings.
When asked how he felt about playing in his 100th career game on senior weekend, Black was feeling "pretty crazy".
"It just seems like just yesterday that I was like on my first road trip," said Black.
Just two weeks ago, both Black and Kawcak played three games in three nights in their home state of Colorado. Their first game was at the Greeley Ice Haus against the University of Northern Colorado Bears. The Ice Haus is 45 minutes east of Fort Collins – Kawcak’s hometown. It’s the same amount of travel time from Denver to Boulder – Black’s hometown.
The next two nights, the Huskies played on the campus of the University of Denver against the Pioneers' ACHA D2 squad.
"This is the first time in four years we gotten to go there (in Colorado) while I’ve been here (at UW)," said Black, about the Huskies road trip to the Rocky Mountain region in mid-January. "It was nice getting to see my family and actually play in front of them and stuff."
"It was great being back home," said Kawcak. "You know kind of get that…you know I played (hockey there in Colorado) since I was like six. You kind of just get the feeling for those rinks again even like the smell of it. You know its really cool for the last season to make that trip out. It was like a kind of like a reunion of sorts for me and Blackie, so that was a great experience."
Another home coming road trip earlier this season for another senior in Tung was when the Huskies played the University of California Golden Bears at the Oakland Ice Center, just a Bay Bridge trip away from his hometown of San Francisco. Tung earned an assist on Friday night, then scored a goal on Saturday night.
"That was fun," said Tung, on his return home playing in front of his parents, Hubert and Laura, as well as in front of family and friends. "It's always good playing in front of them, that’s what I grew up doing. I had a friend out there too that I played with all my life. It’s just weird being on the same rink with a different team."
Asked what he was most proud of his son's achievements, Hubert Tung said he has turned out to be a fine young man. His wife, Laura, agreed with that too.
"I wish him success going forward and (I) really get a kick out of seeing him on the ice wearing the purple and gold", said Hubert.
"It’s been fun to watch him grow up," said Laura.
One other player that was recognized but was unable to be at the senior night ceremonies was goaltender James Feldman, who is currently under a graduate program at UW’s School of Law. The Anchorage, Alaska-native finished out his season in Eugene the previous weekend winning the final game of the Oregon series helping the Huskies bring home the I-5 Cup title, something that Kawcak, Black, and Tung were proud to take part in to close out their respective chapters of Husky hockey.
Washington 11, Portland State 2 (Friday)
Once again the Huskies showed their dominance against a Portland State squad who started the game with ten skaters but ended their game with nine after a wrist injury suffered to Sasha Drozdov during the second period. Nevertheless, Portland State was never in full force throughout the night as the senior trio of Black, Kawcak, and Tung each earned a point off of Kawcak’s game winning goal with 12 minutes remaining in the first period to help Washington and goaltender Debbie Chen get the victory.
Black, center Tavin Jackson (Point Roberts) & junior forward JD White (Kenmore) scored two goals, while Kawcak, freshman defenseman Ryan Jaromin (Arlington), freshman forwards Mason Friedman (San Ramon, California) and Lucas Semkiw (San Jose, California), and sophomore forward Tyler Jennings (Black Diamond) each scored a goal.
Chen stopped 18 of 20 shots to win the game, her first home game played inside Olympicview Arena. Vikings goaltender Nick Alberts – the lone goaltender available on the road trip – stopped 49 of 60 shots in the loss.
Washington 6, Portland State 1 (Saturday)
Immediately after the pre-game ceremonies, both clubs played a tightly contested scoreless game early in the first period until freshman forward Christian Cinderella (Sammamish) scored at 8:30 of the first period. Black would score the game winner with 9:41 remaining in the second period as the Huskies swept the season series from the Vikings.
White, Tung, and Jennings would score for Washington including junior defenseman Tyler Haugen (New Richmond, Wisconsin) getting his first goal of his career with 13:36 remaining in the second period.
Chen was in goal for the second night in a row and was more than a minute away from her first shutout until a Connor Haye shot from the right side with 1:15 remaining ended the bid. Chen is now 3-0-0-0 this season, stopping only 11 of 12 shots for the win. The Huskies pelted Alberts with a massive 75 shots with 69 of them being stopped.
HUSKIES ENTER PAC-8 TOURNAMENT AS #3 SEED
The Pacific-8 Hockey Conference released its final rankings within the conference on Sunday night and Washington – with a KRACH ranking total of 6.44 – secured 3rd place in the conference’s regular season and will arrive to South Lake Tahoe on Thursday as the #3 seed. The Huskies are scheduled to play on Friday night at 7:30 pm against #6-seed University of Oregon Ducks, a club that the Huskies went undefeated in the regular season at 3-0-1.
The #4-seed Washington State University Cougars plays the #5-seed University of Southern California in the first game at 4 pm. USC dropped from first all the way down to fifth place in the final conference rankings.
If the Huskies win on Friday night, they will move on to the semifinals on Saturday at 4 pm to play the defending conference champions / #2-seed University of Utah Utes, who went undefeated in the conference with an 8-0-0 record, while the top seed University of California Golden Bears play the winner of WSU/USC. And if the Huskies win their semifinal game over Utah, they will move on to play for the Pac-8 title game on Super Bowl Sunday at 1 pm.
If the Huskies lose Friday night’s game vs. Oregon, they will play in a 5th-place game on Saturday afternoon at 1 pm against the loser of the tournament’s first game between WSU & USC. If the Huskies win but lose to Utah in the semifinals, Washington would play for 3rd place on Sunday at 11 am.
A Huskies win in the title game (if they get that far) will secure their first conference title since 2012 and a possible automatic bid to the ACHA Division 2 West Regionals tournament later this month in Logan, Utah.