A magical playoff run from Colby Pridham has carried the Saint Mary’s Huskies to a second straight championship.
The 22-year-old former Halifax Mooseheads star scored twice, including the game-winner early in the third period, to lift the Huskies to a 5-3 win over the St. Francis Xavier X-Men and a three-game sweep of the Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey final.
Pridham, who had six goals in the series and an AUS-leading 10 goals en route to playoff MVP, took a tremendous feed in the slot from Marc Rancourt just 32 seconds into the third period and roofed a bullet to break a 3-3 tie.
“He led, we followed,” said Rancourt, the Huskies’ captain and reigning AUS player of the year. “He was the difference in this series. He brought his game to a level I didn’t even realize he was capable of. It was a pleasure to watch.”
Pridham had just six goals in 24 regular-season games and 12 goals in 59 career games in two seasons at Saint Mary’s.
While his emergence as a goal-scorer made headlines, it was his relentless determination at both ends of the ice that exemplified the attributes that made the Huskies successful.
After Pridham’s go-ahead goal, the X-Men barely had a sniff at the equalizer, unable to generate any sustained pressure in the final five minutes.
The 3,896 in attendance — deservedly the largest hockey crowd the AUS has on record — picked up on the Huskies’ dogged work ethic and roared when ex-NHLer Mike Danton potted his second of the game into an empty net with 1:18 to go.
“This team is all about hard work, determination, heart and courage,” said Danton, who joined the team in January after a six-year absence from hockey and scored six goals in nine playoff games.
“That’s what we’ve got.”
Perhaps most impressive about the Huskies’ banner was the fact they won it without all-star forward Cam Fergus and energetic second-liner Kyle Doucet, both out with injuries.
“I give credit to our third and fourth lines,” Pridham said. “They had a lot of energy and it was the depth that got us here. There were no breaks for the other team.”
Cody Thornton had the Huskies’ other goal and goalie Neil Conway made 29 saves.
The Huskies advance to the University Cup starting March 25 in Thunder Bay, Ont.
Past Atlantic University Sport men’s hockey champions.
2010 — Saint Mary’s
2009 — Saint Mary’s
2008 — New Brunswick
2007 — Moncton
2006 — Acadia
2005 — Moncton
2004 — St. F.X.
2003 — New Brunswick
2002 — Saint Mary’s
2001 — St. Thomas
2000 — New Brunswick
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