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Canada

Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team set for quarter-final matchup against UBC Thunderbirds

The University of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team finished the regular season in third place with 51 points — not enough to clinch a first-round bye, but good enough to host a best-of-three quarter-final series with the UBC Thunderbirds.

“It’s really fun to play here with a big crowd and everything,” said goaltender Jessica Vance. “I think it just gives you that kind of extra boost of energy. Yeah, it’s pretty fun to play here.”

READ MORE: ‘This is our year’: Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey eye nationals

“[We have] a lot of confidence. I mean, we play real well in this rink,” said head coach Steve Kook .

“It’s nice to be at home and get into a regular routine.”

Their 51 points were 15 clear of sixth-placed UBC, but despite the large gap in the standings between the two squads, the Huskies won’t take the Thunderbirds lightly.

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“B.C. swept us here in the regular season,” Kook said. “They finished sixth, we finished third. There’s a big point difference, but it’s completely different here [in the playoffs].”

“B.C. has never been a weak team; they’ve always been tough to play. So I think we’ll never take them lightly,” Vance agreed.

“We know it’s going to be a tough battle, but I think we’re excited to start our playoff run.”

READ MORE: Sophie Lalor making comeback with Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team

Although their four-game season series featured tight, low scoring contests, the Huskies expect a free-flowing offensive series.

“When we play B.C. it’s probably a little bit more open, and that’s something that we’ve got to control,” Kook said.

“They’re a good offensive team, and when we give them chances they’re opportunistic. So we’ve got to manage the puck — that’s our focus this weekend.”

While the Huskies are backstopped by all-time Canada West save percentage leader Jessica Vance, the Thunderbirds have another of the league’s top goalies in Tory Micklash.

READ MORE: Experience not an issue for Saskatchewan Huskies women’s hockey team

The team’s philosophy on offence for UBC and Micklash is easy: keep things simple.

“We’re guilty sometimes of holding on too long. So, I mean, our focus in the second half was that we set the pace, and we set the shots early,” Kook said.

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“We think that if the puck is on Micklash and there’s a rebound, we think we can win those, that’s what we think we’re good at. So you can expect us to shoot lots and early.”

This upcoming series marks the third post-season battle between the two schools in the last four years.  Saskatchewan and UBC have split the head-to-head with the home team coming away victorious in each instance.

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