It was another exciting weekend for Ooks men’s hockey. On Friday night, the Ooks torched the SAIT Trojans 7-1 at SAIT Arena in Calgary. On Saturday, the Ooks again beat the Trojans 5-1 in front of a near-capacity crowd for the Alumni Game at NAIT.
The Ooks remain undefeated after six games and have not allowed more than three goals in a single contest this season.
A major theme of this weekend’s games for the Ooks was teamwork. Friday’s game saw seven different players score NAIT’s goals. Head coach Mike Gabinet said the team played excellently away from home. The entire team, led by team captain Scott Fellnermayr, has been practising extremely hard.
“I’m a big believer that the game is fair: if you play the game the right way, it rewards you,” Gabinet said. “Those guys were rewarded last night for playing hard hockey and going into the tough areas. It’s funny how when you do those things, the puck finds the net for you.”
Ook goaltender Kenny Cameron was outstanding, stopping 33 of 34 shots. Including this weekend’s games, he has allowed three goals in four games and has stopped 124 of 127 shots for a stellar .976 save percentage. Gabinet again noted the importance of practice.
“He’s a really focused kid, he’s always critiquing his game. He’s a nice calming presence in the net right now.”
On Saturday, the Ooks faced SAIT at home for the annual Alumni Game. At a ceremony before puck drop, the Ooks Men’s Hockey Alumni Association presented a cheque of $210,000 for student athlete scholarships. Before the game, Gabinet talked about importance of NAIT alumni in the success of the hockey program.
“For any elite program, you need the support of the alumni. They’re a huge contributor to our program for our success … ”
The Ooks demonstrated their excellence by once again defeating the grumpy Trojans. NAIT was all over SAIT in the first period, with four different players finding the back of the net. SAIT came out flying in the second period, throwing hard checks and finally beat Cameron to narrow NAIT’s lead to three. Halfway through the second, a brawl erupted when tempers finally boiled over after a hard-fought first half. The referees handed three Ooks and four Trojans each 10-minute misconducts.
The third period was comparably quiet, as NAIT added the fifth and final nail in SAIT’s coffin (courtesy of Jordan Wood) to end a tempestuous home-and-home series.
Keenan Bailey, the Ooks player of the game, had two assists. After, he talked about standing firm despite SAIT’s aggression.
“SAIT’s always played like that,” Bailey said. “They’ve been chippy. Our coaches came into the room and told us to stick to the game plan and take some punches in front of the net if we have to.”
Bailey added the team was excited to play in front of the boisterous Alumni crowd. “It was awesome and they’re a great support for the team. There was a lot of people in the stands tonight and it helps to pump the boys up.”
Next, the Ooks take on the MacEwan Griffins Friday at 7 p.m. at NAIT Arena and 8:15 the following evening at Bill Hunter Arena.