The University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team gave up the game’s first and last goals, but scored six of their own between to defeat the Regina Cougars 6-3 on Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
With the win Alberta improves to 19-3-0, and is eight points clear of second place. The Bears, who clinched a playoff spot three games ago, are also on the verge of clinching home ice advantage. There are just six games remaining in the regular season, or a possible 12 points, and the Evergreen and Gold currently hold an eight point lead on second place Calgary, as well as a 10 point advantage on third place Mount Royal.
Regina, meanwhile, falls dangerously close to elimination from the post-season as the Cougars drop to a 6-14-2 record. They remain at 14 points, which is five points back of their provincial rivals, the Saskatchewan Huskies who have 19 points and currently occupy the final playoff position.
On Saturday night, however, the Cougars jumped out to a lightning fast start when Dylen McKinley scored just 1:53 into the opening period. Regina took advantage of a miscue by the Bears, and raced in on an odd-man rush, with McKinley beating Alberta sophomore goalie Luke Siemens to open the scoring.
That goal against seemed to spark Alberta, unfortunately for Regina, and the nation’s No.1 ranked team proceed to outshoot Regina 21-3 over the remainder of the period, and received goals from Brennan Yadlowski, Josh Derko, his first as a Golden Bear, and Stephane Legault, to lead 3-1 after 20 minutes.
In the second period, the assault continued as the Bears outshot Regina 19-7, and pumped two more pucks past Lucas Gore, courtesy of Drew Nicol and Jesse Craige, to head into the final frame up 5-1, and with a 41-11 shot advantage.
Jordan Rowley, last season’s Canada West defenceman of the year, made it 6-1, just 1:32 into the third period, but Alberta took the foot off the gas after that, and Regina notched a pair of goals, including a power-play snipe by Sanfred King, and an even strength tally by Troy Hunter, to make the final score 6-3.
The Golden Bears return to action next weekend when they travel to Lethbridge to take on the last-place Pronghorns, while the Cougars return home to host the Manitoba Bisons in a crucial series. The Bisons currently occupy fifth place in Canada West, a full eight points ahead of Regina.