EDMONTON – Sophomore forward Jamie Crooks scored a pair of goals to lead the No.1 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team to a 5-2 game one win over the No.4 ranked Calgary Dinos, in a feisty affair at Clare Drake Arena on Thursday night.
Crooks, who is from Vermillion, Alberta and was a member of the Canada West all-rookie team last season, lit the lamp in the first and third periods on Thursday, while fourth-year forward Brett Ferguson had a goal and two assists.
Also scoring for the defending Canada West and CIS champions was team captain Kruise Reddick and freshman Josh Derko. Fifth-year goalie Kurtis Mucha made seven saves on the night as Alberta outshot Calgary 39-9 in the game one win.
Scoring for Calgary was Elgin Pearce, who earlier this week was honoured with the Canada West Sportsmanship and Athletic Ability Award, as well as Brooks Myers.
Canada West Goalie of the Year Kris Lazaruk picked up the loss for the Dinos after giving up four goals on 22 shots in 40 minutes of work. Jacob DeSerres, who won the conference goalie of the year award last season, played the third period, and stopped 12 of the 13 shots he faced.
The win gives Alberta a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three conference championship.
“I really liked the way we came out. We played with a lot of energy, and we played on our toes,” said third-year Golden Bears bench boss Ian Herbers. “We went out and dictated the play, and that’s our strength. We just get better and better as the season moves along.”
The provincial rivals gave the tried and true ‘Battle of Alberta’ nickname another chapter for the book by combining for 156 penalty minutes on 34 infractions, including 132 in the third period and eleven 10 minute misconducts.
“When that happens, I’m sure frustrations are setting in,” said Golden Bears rookie Stephane Legault. “We played a really good game and limited them with shots, and that’s just their guys playing intense and we expect that.”
“I think I had eight penalty minutes all year and (on Thursday) I had 16,” Legault continued. “You expect that in a playoff game. It’s two good teams playing hard and I’m sure there’ll be a little more of that tomorrow night. But for us, we’re hoping to just play between the whistles and stay more disciplined.”
Derko, who scored one regular season goal this year, notched his first CIS playoff tally at 3:02 of the first period when he buried a short-side snapshot past Lazaruk, off a great feed by fellow freshman Riley Kieser from behind the net.
Pearce leveled the score at 13:43, with the Dinos on the PP, but just 30 seconds later, Crooks restored Alberta’s lead when Ferguson’s shot caromed off him for the 2-1 advantage after 20 minutes.
Twenty nine seconds into the second period, Reddick buried the game winner, just moments after an Alberta power-play expired, and then Ferguson made it 4-1 at 8:29 of the second.
Crooks got his second of the night, and third of the post-season, when he banked Legault’s shot past DeSerres for the 5-1 score line at 6:50 of the final frame, but Myers ripped a shorthanded howitzer past Mucha, and under the crossbar, at 10:18 to complete the scoring.
The Golden Bears are now poised to win their 52nd Canada West title, and their 13th in the last 15 years. And although both teams are already guaranteed a spot at the CIS University Cup tournament next week in Halifax, but the Canada West banner remains up for grabs, as does the superior seeding at the national championship tournament.
“We know both teams are going but we want to take care of business first,” Legault said. “We want that Canada West banner. It’s not the one we’re looking for but we still want to take care of that one.”
Puck drop for game two is 7:00 p.m. MST at Clare Drake Arena. Game three, if necessary, will be 7:00 p.m. MST on Saturday.