(Halifax, NS) The Saint Mary's Huskies have punched their ticket to the semifinals of the 2020 U SPORTS Cavendish Farms University Cup with a 5-1 victory over the Guelph Gryphons at Scotiabank Centre on Thursday night
The Huskies controlled the pace of play for much of the first period by pounding pucks on goal, finishing their checks, winning puck battles, and outskating the Gryphons on seemingly every shift.
Eventually, SMU was rewarded for their hard work as Sam King (Hampton, NB) unleashed a quick wrister that went through the bevy of bodies in front of Guelph netminder Andrew Masters (Kitchener, ON) and hit the back of net to break the deadlock at 7:52.
The goal was made possible by an excellent play at the point by defenseman Jacob Friend (Bowmanville, ON) who undressed a Gryphons defender to make the dish to King.
Saint Mary's continued its dominant play in the second frame, and it only needed 56 seconds to add to their lead. Sam Dunn (Hamilton, ON) feathered a point-shot through traffic that eluded Masters to make it 2-0. Despite the increased comfort, the Huskies kept their foot on the gas and took the play to a lethargic Guelph team.
Just a couple of minutes past the mid-way point of the period, with Justin Lemcke (Orono, ON) in the box for holding, Bronson Beaton (Springhill, NS) blew a one-timer over the shoulder of Masters to stretch the SMU lead to 3-0. Dylan Di Perna (Nobleton, ON) and Anthony Repaci (Toronto, ON) drew assists on the play.
Having been badly outshot nearing the end of the middle stanza, the Guelph Gryphons showed some signs of life. Connor Bramwell (Hamilton, ON) centred the puck for Giordano Finoro (Guelph, ON) who tucked it neatly under the crossbar to inject some much-needed energy into Gryphons heading into the second intermission.
The Huskies maintained composure despite the late second period goal by Guelph, as eventual player of the game Stephen Johnson (Moncton, NB) tapped in the fourth SMU goal at 2:46 after an Alexander Peters (Blyth, ON) missed the mark but rebounded onto Johnson's stick.
This would spell the end of the evening for Andrew Masters, who was pulled after surrendering four goals in just over 42 minutes of work. Brandon Cregan (Hammonds Plains, NS) would take over for the remainder of the game.
Mitchell Balmas (Syndey, NS) added one late to make the game even more unreachable for the Gryphons.
With the victory, Saint Mary's guarantees themselves a spot in a medal game on Sunday – but we won't know which one until Saturday afternoon when the Huskies battle the Western University Mustangs at 2pm back on Scotiabank Centre ice.
Drew McConnell, SMU