MRU and SAIT set to renew hostilities

SAIT Men's Hockey

SAIT Trojan Kevin Lessard rebounds the puck from Mount Royal Cougar netminder Justin Cote during the third game of the ACAC men's hockey finals on March 19, 2011 at the SAIT arena. The men of Troy lost the night 2-1, allowing the Cougars to take a one game advantage in the series. ANDREW CROSSETT PHOTO

First match-up for crosstown rivals since the epic ACAC Championships

The ACAC’s best on-ice rivalry is set to resume.

The SAIT Trojans and MRU Cougars are ready to renew hostilities nearly eight months removed from the epic ACAC championship game which saw the Cougars win a controversial five-game series, putting an end to the Trojans’ drive for five.

Although both teams have a lot of fresh faces this time around, head coach Ken Babey said new players learn about the rivalry pretty quickly in the locker room.

“If they weren’t aware [of the rivalry], they have probably been schooled on it by now being amongst the guys who were here last year,” said Babey.

The two teams sit atop the ACAC standings, with the Trojans one point behind the Cougars, but with a game in hand. The standings are expected to be close up until the end of the season, and both teams would like to use this weekend’s games to get some separation from their inner-city rival.

The Trojans’ offence has been key to their early success this season. They are averaging five goals per game, second to only Augustana in that category. Trojan Clinton Pettapiece is currently tied for 2nd in ACAC scoring with 17 points, with teammate Robert Nocera in third with 16.

On the other side, Mount Royal has been getting it done defensively. The cougars have allowed only 19 goals in 12 games played this season, and their goaltending duo of Justin Cote and Dalyn Flette have two of the top three goals-against averages in the league.

“The way the standings are shaking out right now; it looks like it is going to be a tight race, and we have to be prepared to play well against anybody,” said Babey.

First-year Trojans goaltender Adam Barko is new to the rivalry, but is well aware of the importance of the two games for his team.

“We don’t want to lose any games, and playing against a good team like Mount Royal, beating them would be making a big statement to the league,” said Barko.

Team captain Jon Malin was a key figure in last year’s match-up with Mount Royal and he likes the atmosphere the rivalry brings.

“You definitely expect more fans,” he said. “It’s exciting to play in front of a bigger crowd.”

The two game series begins Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. at SAIT Arena and concludes at Flames Community Arenas the next night, with a 7:30 p.m. puck drop.

Come out and support your Trojans!

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