Newfoundland Huskies helped pull team

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John Browne
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Scott Brophy, Patrick O'Keefe and Andrew White are members of AUS champion Saint Mary's

Scott Brophy and Patrick O'Keefe interrupted a St. Patrick's Day party at team captain Marc Rancourt's house Wednesday to chat about their contribution to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey champion Saint Mary's Huskies and the chance SMU has at next week's nationals.

"Yeah, an O'Keefe and a Brophy at a Paddy's Day party ... we'll try to keep it down a bit," O'Keefe said laughing, as some noisy revelers could be heard singing in the background.

Saint Marys Huskies assistant captains Scott Brophy (left) and Justin Munden hold the AUS mens hockey championship banner after the Huskies 5-3 win over the St. Francis Xavier X-Men in the conference championship game Monday night in Halifax. Brophy is on

Scott Brophy and Patrick O'Keefe interrupted a St. Patrick's Day party at team captain Marc Rancourt's house Wednesday to chat about their contribution to the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) hockey champion Saint Mary's Huskies and the chance SMU has at next week's nationals.

"Yeah, an O'Keefe and a Brophy at a Paddy's Day party ... we'll try to keep it down a bit," O'Keefe said laughing, as some noisy revelers could be heard singing in the background.

The Canadian Interunivesity Sport (CIS) No. 8-ranked Huskies, whose lineup also includes Andrew White of St. John's, beat the St. Francis Xavier X-Men 5-3 Monday night at the Halifax Forum to win the AUS title.

The Huskies will compete with the host Lakehead Thunderwolves, Alberta Golden Bears, Manitoba Bisons, McGill Redmen and the Trois-Riveres Patriotes at the University Cup national men's hockey tournament, starting Thursday in Thunder Bay, Ont.

"The way our team is playing right now, I've got to say we've got a pretty good chance. We feel pretty good," said O'Keefe.

Brophy agrees.

"We're not the favourites by any means, but I think we have just as good a shot at the nationals as anyone else," Brophy said.

"We have the experience of being there (CIS tournament) last year and we returned 16 of those players this season. That's a huge positive for us," he noted.

"We were able to pretty much roll four lines for every game we played. We played very deep and a lot of teams weren't able to match us," Brophy said.

SMU coach Trevor Stienburg switched O'Keefe from defence to left wing late in the season and O'Keefe said there was definitely a period of adjustment.

"To be honest," said O'Keefe, "it was tough initially. I was exhausted after our first practice. I can skate backwards all day, but skating forward that much really took it out of me.

"My legs were gone after the two-hour practice. I'm not kidding."

O'Keefe, who like Brophy, played for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's St. John's Fog Devils, admitted to being a little lost at first, but he says he got used to it as the week went on and now with nine games under his belt as a forward, he feels more comfortable.

O'Keefe finished the season with two goals and two assists in 26 games. Brophy had had four goals and seven assists, while White netted a half-dozen goals and added one helper.

Stienburg praised the contribution of all three Newfoundlanders.

"Patrick was moved to the wing with two games left in the regular season because we needed energy up front, and he has delivered just that with an intensity we missed all year," Stienburg said.

"Andrew," continued Stienburg, "has been great this year and has scored timely goals while playing with Patrick."

"And Brophy is the smartest player in the league and could never be replaced as our energy/defensive centre."

"That's a huge compliment," Brophy said.

"I appreciate him saying that, but when you're not that good at anything else, you have to do something to contribute," he added with a laugh. "Lot's of guys on our team do more."

Meanwhile, after a brief flurry of publicity, things calmed down quickly for Mike Danton, who joined the Huskies in January after more than five years in prison for a failed murder-for-hire plot.

Danton, 29, an ex-National Hockey League player, has fit in well with SMU, says Brophy.

"At the end of the day, he's just another guy on our team. It was a very easy transition for him on our team. We made it easy for him and he made it easy for us," said Brophy.

"He's a very open guy and he was willing to answer any questions anybody had for him. He was completely honest.

"Even before he came here," explained Brophy, "he told our captain to put his phone number on the bulletin board and if anyone feels uncomfortable about him coming to the team, they should call him.

"He's been a fantastic player for our team."

jbrowne@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Atlantic University Sport, Halifax Forum, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League National Hockey League

Geographic location: Saint Mary, St. John's, Thunder Bay

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