REGINA, Sask. - The University of Regina's men's hockey team celebrated Senior Night with a 4-3 win on Saturday night as both teams closed out the Canada West schedule at The Co-operators Centre.
And on the night where the Cougars honoured their five fifth-year players prior to the game, two of those veterans combined for three of their four goals in the win - including Brock Appleyard, who scored his third and fourth of the season for the U of R. Sanfred King also scored for the Cougars, while third-year forward Stephen Langford also scored.
"You're always happy for the fifth-year guys when they can go out with a win," Cougars head coach Todd Johnson said. "That was our focus today, and I thought the entire team played pretty well for them tonight."
Sean Aschim, Levi Cable, and Kohl Bauml replied for Saskatchewan, which entered the weekend with first place in the Canada West standings already wrapped up and finishes the conference schedule with a 22-6-0 record.
Mitch Kilgore was credited with the win for the Cougars, as he stopped 27 of Saskatchewan's 30 shots to help the U of R to its seventh win of the season.
The Cougars burst out of the gates with three goals in the game's first six minutes. Langford started the parade with a one-timer from the slot off a Trent Lofthouse pass for his second of the season, then the U of R notched two more in the span of 37 seconds. First it was King with his sixth of the year after taking a centering pass from Zach McPhee, then Appleyard deflected a Devon McMullen shot past Saskatchewan goalie Blake Voth to put the home side 3-0.
Saskatchewan head coach Dave Adolph called a timeout after the third goal, and the Huskies settled in and got one back before the first intermission. But barely before the first intermission, as there were just 3.2 seconds left on the clock when Aschim took a backhand pass from John Lawrence and buried it to get Saskatchewan to within two.
Cable got the Huskies to within one with seven minutes to go in the middle frame, and the Huskies tied it up on their second last-minute goal of the game. This time it was Bauml finishing off a nice passing play that also included Connor Cox and Cable, and the provincial rivalry showed its teeth after the U of R's Austin Bourhis buried Bauml as he scored the goal. The referees dished out 56 minutes in penalties as Regina's Bourhis and Troy Hunter and Saskatchewan's Cox and Jesse Ross would sit out until well past the midway mark of the third, but they all evened out and the two teams skated away at 5-on-5.
Appleyard's goal seven minutes into the third stood up as the winner. Lofthouse got his second assist of the night after driving to the net from the left corner. His shot was saved, but Appleyard pounced on the rebound to score what would turn out to be the sixth game-winning goal of his career.
Hunter, Mark Schneider, and John Sonntag joined Appleyard and King in playing their final games as a Cougar.
"This team is a real tight-knit bunch, and these five guys played a huge role in establishing the culture in the room," Johnson said. "And obviously tonight, they played a huge role in the win."
While Saturday's game was the last of the year for the Cougars, Saskatchewan will now prepare for the postseason. The Huskies earn a bye through to the semifinals, where they'll face one of Calgary, Manitoba, or UBC in a best-of-three series. That semifinal series will be played two weekends from now.