Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
Ask Trent Adamus about his top memory playing hockey at the University of Saskatchewan, and it’s probably not what your first guess would be.
In fact, it’s much more likely what your last guess would be.
Considered one of the greatest game in U SPORTS history, the 2004 University Cup championship between the U of S Huskies and the Alberta Golden Bears checked all the boxes: a sudden-death winner-take-all scenario; a meeting of two fierce rivals; an electric record-setting crowd; an arena steeped in history; and a spectacular comeback with a dramatic finish that has become a moment frozen in time.
Except Adamus and his teammates were on the wrong side of it.
The Bears rallied from a two-goal defect in the third period, scoring the tying goal with just 23 seconds remaining, and then won the game in overtime, sending the 10,331 fans at Edmonton’s Rexall Place into a frenzy.
“Losing in the championship game the way that we did was very tough,” says the Saskatoon native who suited up for his hometown Huskies from 2004 to 2009, “but it was still a great experience to play the championship game in front of 10,000 people in my rookie year with the Huskies.”
Such is the beauty of Canada West hockey, where life’s experience transcend the games’ result. Over five seasons on the U of S men’s hockey team, winning a conference title in 2007, Adamus enjoyed moments unforgettable as much as he did accomplishments tangible.
All that he gleaned from that University Cup final and every other game he played with the Huskies, not to mention countless practices and long hours riding the bus with his cohorts, shape who Adamus is today: a lawyer at Saskatoon firm Leland Kimpinski LLP.
“One thing the Huskies program, hockey, and sports in general will teach you is work ethic and dedication, so that has assisted me to proceed with completing a law degree and pursuing a legal career,” the 34-year-old says.
“During my time with the Huskies, we were part of a group and an organization with certain goals that we worked together to obtain, and that’s similar in the law office here at Leland Kimpinski,” says Adamus, whose specialties include business and corporate law. “We have a good group of lawyers as well as staff, we have the same goals, and we work together to obtain certain goals within the office.”
Adamus enrolled at the University of Saskatchewan after playing four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Saskatoon Blades. For every season in the WHL, a player is entitled to a minimum of tuition, books and compulsory fees at any post-secondary institution.
“A part of my decision to attend university definitely was that the WHL scholarship would be assisting me throughout my time with the Huskies,” he says.
“It definitely helps to not have to worry about paying for tuition at the same time as going to school and playing for the Huskies. It gave me lots of opportunity to focus on hockey as well as education.”
In 245 career regular season games with the Blades, Adamus totaled 94 points and 257 penalty minutes, and rarely missed a game in his first three years. He registered 103 points in 152 games at the U of S, including a career-high 33 in 2005-06 when he was third on the Huskies with 17 goals.
“When I first started with the Blades I was in a checking and a hard-working role and it evolved a bit during junior hockey,” he says. “When I started playing with the University of Saskatchewan I was provided with a lot of opportunity to play on the power play as well as the penalty kill. I was able to get a lot of ice time when I played with the Huskies and it was very enjoyable to be able to do that.”
From 2005 to 2008, Adamus and the Huskies made four consecutive trips to the national tournament. In 2007, Saskatchewan upset Alberta in the best-of-three Canada West championship series, winning the last two games by one goal in Edmonton to become the only team other than the Golden Bears to hoist the Dr. W.G. Hardy Trophy between 2001 and 2011.
“We had a really hard-working team, a team that was really focused, and everybody just laid it all out there as hard as they could that (series),” says Adamus, who led the conference with 5 assists in the 2007 Canada West playoffs.
“We had a couple players that really stepped up and basically everybody played a great (series), the best hockey we could play, and that’s what made us successful.”
During his five years playing at Saskatchewan, the Huskies went 86-36-18 in the regular season and never finished lower than second in overall standings. Those teams were also part of the U of S’s remarkable run of 13 straight Canada West men’s hockey championship final appearances spanning 1997 to 2009.
“Growing up in Saskatoon I knew that it was a great program, I knew some of the players that were playing who also were able to tell me that it was a great program and after my time playing with the Huskies, I would advise those coming through junior that the program is top-notch.”
Adamus, who is one of three recent Huskies to go into law along with Kyle Ross & Ryan Holfeld, began working with Leland Kimpinski while still studying law at Saskatchewan, and joined the firm as a practicing lawyer following his graduation.
Now several years into his legal career, a look back at all that time he spent at the rink makes it a little clearer how he got from there to here.
“During the time that I was playing major junior as a teenager there were a lot of lessons learned,” he says, “but (with) the Huskies program I was able to evolve with the game of hockey as well as the education part of it.”