February 27, 2012
Men's Hockey Win Quarter-Final Series over Concordia 2-1
For the first time in five years, the NAIT Ooks have had some success in ACAC men's hockey playoffs.
Shannon Szabados provided top-level goaltending and NAIT outshot its opponent in each game, squeezing past the Concordia Thunder 2-1 in the best-of-three quarter-final.
Josh Koper, Clinton Senkow and Steele Boomer shared the scoring in a 3-2 victory on home ice Friday night and Koper tallied again, with the other goal coming from Michael Westfall, as Concordia evened the series with a 3-2 revenge triumph on Saturday.
The decisive game ended 4-1, with three power-play goals providing the margin of victory. Andy Willigar scored twice, with Koper and Jordan Draper completing the scoring.
NAIT outshot Concordia 31-23, 34-24 and 32-24 in the three close contests.
Before last weekend, the most recent NAIT playoff victory came against the Augustana Vikings in 2007. Two years later, NAIT bowed in the semi-final to the Mount Royal Cougars, who provide the opposition in the upcoming semi-final series.
"We played well against MRU all year, with the exception of one loss (5-0) in Calgary," head coach Serge Lajoie said.
The former University of Alberta Golden Bears standout expressed special pleasure for veterans Kyle Johnson, Senkow, Ryan Smith, goaltender Graeme Harrington and Jiri Prochazka: "This was their first playoff-series win; it has been a long wait."
NAIT showed great character in winning the decisive game after a tough second-game loss on Concordia's home ice. "The line of Boomer, Koper and Draper was very good at both ends of the ice."
Prochazka, who battled injury for much of the regular season, earned recognition as NAIT's player of the game.
"His leadership in all three games was instrumental in our team advancing to the semi-finals," Lajoie explained. "His tireless work ethic and determination set the tone for us."