It is 3:45 p.m. on a Tuesday afternoon in early March at the SAIT arena, and a couple of members of the Trojans men’s hockey team are warming up in what might seem unusual fashion: by playing some volleyball.
This particular Tuesday marked the start of the team’s last week of practices before going into playoff competition the first weekend of March.
The team earned a bye in the first round of playoffs last week by finishing second in the Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACAC) standings. Trojans head coach Ken Babey was pleased that his boys were able to rest last weekend.
“We had some guys that were banged up, so I think it was good they had a rest,” said Babey.
“Now we can set our sights on the defending champions.”
First up, the Trojans were to play the defending ACAC champions, the University of Alberta – Augustana (UAA) Vikings in a best of five series in semi-final action.
Going into the series, the Trojans were the hottest team in the league, having not had a loss in 16 games, winning 14 of those games and tying two.
Despite their momentum, the team still has much to work on during this week’s practices.
“In hockey anytime, but especially in the playoffs, you have to make sure everyone is sharp,” said Babey.
Babey noted that the particular series would be a special challenge for the team. Specialty teams were sure to be a factor and therefore were a focus of the practices.
Augustana featured the number one powerplay in the conference, with SAIT in the second spot. SAIT, however, held the number one spot in penalty killing.
“Augustana is an offensive team, so we will be working on things to give us a chance to win these games,” said Babey.
All the work paid off, as the Trojans won the first two games of the series, dropped the third, but punched their ticket to the ACAC finals against the NAIT Ooks with a win in game four, at the Campus Centre.
The series was set to open March 15 at NAIT and continued March 16 with game two of the best-of-five series at the Campus Centre.