Carson Stadnyk doesn’t remember much after scoring a wild series-clinching goal against the Calgary Dinos Saturday night, as the University of Saskatchewan Huskies secured their spot in both the Canada West and U Sports finals with a 3-1 win.
The second-year forward blew the lid off Rutherford Rink with 24 seconds left in the third period when he put the University of Saskatchewan Huskies ahead 2-1 with a backhand shot past Dinos goaltender Jordan Papirny.
“Oh my God. I blacked out,” Stadnyk said afterwards, grinning from ear to ear.
“I just remember running into Jesse (Forsberg) and I have no idea, I just got pounded. It was great.”
The Saskatoon product was tackled by his teammates in the corner as the fans went wild inside the 88-year-old rink, rattling the rafters.
Jesse Forsberg threw the puck up ice to Stadnyk to give him the opportunity, and it took the forward a second to get ahold of the biscuit.
“It went off my hand twice,” he said.
“And then I just got right past their d-man and flicked it.”
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) February 25, 2018
The Dinos pulled out all the stops in the final moments, pulling Papirny for the extra attacker, but Levi Cable put the final nail in the coffin with an empty-netter with three seconds left.
Saskatchewan pulled off the game three win despite losing their entire top line — Josh Roach, Logan McVeigh and Michael Sofillas — to injury.
Stadnyk was one of the players head coach Dave Adolph singled out for stepping up after the Huskies lost game two on Friday night by a 2-1 score.
“That’s what it’s all about, all the unsung heroes,” Adolph said, also pointing to the performances of first-year players Sam Ruopp and Collin Shirley.
Another first-year Huskie applauded by the coach was goalie Taran Kozun, who stepped into the crease partway through game one after all-star backstop Jordon Cooke left the series with an MCL injury.
Kozun made 23 saves Saturday, fighting off several cross-crease one-timers with strong kick saves and giving the U of S a chance.
“Everything I’ve done out there is from watching (Cooke) all year,” Kozun said.
The matchup marked the final men’s playoff game to be played in Rutherford Rink, with the Huskies ready to move over to their new home at Merlis Belsher Place at some point during the 2018-19 season.
Several players took photos at centre ice after the game to mark the historic moment.
However, it wasn’t on Adolph’s mind.
“Never even thought about it. Didn’t buy a mug or a t-shirt, nothing,” he said.
The Huskies will travel to Edmonton to face the top-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears in the Canada West finals from March 2nd to March 4th in a best-of-three series.
Afterwards, both teams will make their way to Frederiction, N.B. for the U Sports University Cup national finals from March 15-18.
The victory came just hours after the Huskies women’s hockey team completed their sweep of the UBC Thunderbirds to punch their ticket to the Canada West finals and national tournament in London, Ont. with a 2-1 win.