The NAIT men’s hockey team reached a new ACAC record after another exciting back-to-back series against the second-place Augustana Vikings last week. If the Ooks were to lose at all, it would have been to the Vikings; however, they recorded another shutout against the Vikings on Wednesday evening 4-0 and again, defeated the Vikings on Thursday night in Camrose, 5-2.
The Ooks are first in the ACAC standings with a 28-0 record, and surpassed their previous 27-0 record set in the 2013-2014 regular season. The last time a coach in his first year led his team to first place was in 1996-1997. Ooks Coach Mike Gabinet has joined that club.
Wednesday night at home, the Ooks wasted no time and started off the scoring in the first frame. Ook captain Scott Fellnermayr shoots blocker side and the fires one past the Vikings netminder. Shortly after, Ook Kevin Carthy gets a nice feed from Sam Waterfield to score another and the Ooks led 2-0 after the first. Midway through the second frame, Ook John Dunbar picks up the puck from captain Fellnermayr and shot the puck into the back of the net to send his team to the third leading 3-zip. The Vikings had yet to gain puck possession in the game, but that would not change if the Ooks had anything to do with it. On the man-advantage, Ook Charles Wells takes a clapper from the blue line and as the Ooks win 4-0. This is the team’s fourth shutout of the season, and goaltender Kenny Cameron’s fourth as well as he leads the ACAC in shutouts with a save percentage of 0.937.
Thursday evening, the Ooks travelled to Camrose and they weren’t planning on letting go of their perfect season. It didn’t take long for the Ooks to get on the board. Trace Elson drove in the puck to give his team an early lead. In the second frame, Ook Riley Sheen fired the puck in and the Ooks were up by 2. Later in the period, the Vikings struck on the man-advantage to cut the Ooks lead to one. Not long after, the Vikings gained puck possession to score again to tie up the game. Only minutes into the third, Ook Riley Sheen scored his second of the night to regain their lead, then added two more goals and continued their perfect season with a 5-2 road victory.
Head coach Mike Gabinet was proud of his team for overcoming their opponent. “It was two very hard fought games this past week. I thought our team did an extremely good job at buying into our structured team play and sticking with the process.”
To say the Ooks are having a special year would be an understatement. The Ooks have four of the top five leading scorers in the league (1- John Dunbar, 3,4,5- Scott Fellnermayr, Trace Elson, Riley Sheen); they lead the league in with a 87.4 penalty killing percentage. Currently, the Ooks are 15 points ahead of the second place Augustana Vikings in the ACAC standings.
“We have a special group of players and they realize how important it is to have a team first attitude,” praised Gabinet. “When the game is on the line they find a way to elevate their game and compete level. It’s fun to watch and our staff is proud of them”
The Ooks have four games left in their regular season. They will take on Concordia Thunder on Feburary 19th at Clareview Arena, puck drop is at 8:15 p.m. and on Saturday February 20th at NAIT arena at 6 p.m.
You can also keep up with the action by following the hockey team on Twitter, @NAITMENSHOCKEY or watch online at sportscanada.tv/naitooks.