At practice a few days before, Trojans men’s hockey head coach Ken Babey said that the semi-final match-up was going to be tough.
So his boys came out fighting in their 2-0 victory over the University of Alberta – Augustana Vikings on March 1 in Alberta College Athletics Conference (ACAC) action.
“They’re the defending champions. We, as coaches, figured they’d be coming hard,” said Babey after Friday night’s game. “I’m not sure our guys expected that much of a push-back,” said Babey.
Push back is what the Vikings did in the third, seeing they were down 2-0 and significantly out-shot by that time.
“We weathered the storm,” said Babey.
Once again Trojans’ goaltender Mike Tadjdeh was outstanding and blocked all 22 shots from the Vikings.
For about three minutes in the third period, Tadjdeh was really put through the ringer, blocking shot after shot that the Vikings kept hammering at him.
“You can’t get rattled in this game and I think Mike even gets better as the pressure gets higher,” said Babey.
Perhaps even more impressive were the 14 shots blocked by the other Trojans players throughout the game.
“The guys did a good job boxing out in front and really went to battle in front of the net,” said Tadjdeh.
The first period was nothing but hard-hitting back and forth action. Despite two power plays and 14 shots on net, the Trojans could not manage to sneak one by Vikings’ goaltender Joel Danyluk.
But that all changed 8:01 into the second period, when rookie defenseman Darrin Robak, perhaps fueled by the Augustana crowd shouting “Go Vikings Go,” slid one past Danyluk on a rebound for the game winning goal.
The goal marked Robak’s first in an ACAC playoff, and only his second as a Trojan, yet he was humble about the milestone.
“I don’t know if I should have been standing there or not, but I did for quite a while,” said Robak with a laugh. “Their team didn’t really seem to be watching me, so I just snuck in there.”
About four minutes later, the Trojans solidified their victory with a bit of lucky physics.
A shot on goal went wide, bounced off the boards, off of J.D. Watt’s jersey, and deflected from Danyluk into the net.
The Trojans will travel to Augustana for game two of the series on March 3, and will be back at SAIT Arena for game three on Friday, March 8. The series is a best-of-five.