For the 27th time, but the first since the 2015 Canada West Final, the No. 6 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team will take on their rival and U SPORTS No. 8 ranked Calgary Dinos in the Canada West playoffs.
The best-of-three Canada West semifinal will run from Friday to Sunday at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton. Game 1 will get underway at 7:00 p.m., while Game 2, and Game 3 if necessary, will have puck drop at 6:00 p.m.
Fans in attendance can get all their team news, including stats, rosters, game lineups and standings at uab.ca/gameday.
The 26 previous post-season meetings is the highest total among two teams in Canada West history, with the 24 all-time meetings between Alberta and Saskatchewan the next highest.
It is also a playoff matchup that, especially recently, has heavily favoured the Golden Bears. The Bears currently hold a 19-7 record against Calgary in the post-season, but have won the last 14 playoff matchups. That streak runs all the way back to the Dinos last win in the 1996 Canada West Division Final. In fact, the Golden Bears have yet to drop a playoff game to Calgary since the series loss 21 years ago.
Alberta finished the 2016/17 Canada West conference season with an 18-8-2 overall record, good enough for second in the conference. The top two seed gave the Bears not only a ‘bye’ through last week’s quarter-final, but also gave them home ice in this semifinal matchup.
The Dinos, though, finished just a single point behind the Bears, thanks to their 18-9-1 record. The Dinos were also able to beat the Golden Bears twice during conference play, including blanking the Golden Bears 3-0 on January 21st in Edmonton.
The shutout loss at Clare Drake Arena was the first for the Golden Bears since 1964, a streak of over 600 conference games and 53 years.
However, the Dinos are not nearly as fresh as Alberta, having to eliminate the UBC Thunderbirds in the conference quarter-finals last weekend to get here. Despite sweeping the ‘Birds at home, Calgary actually played three games worth of minutes against UBC, with Game 1 last Friday needing triple overtime.
The Dinos will also be going up against a more energized Golden Bears team since that shutout win one month ago. Alberta won four of their final six games to clinch the first round ‘bye’, scoring 18 goals over that span.
Leading the high-powered Alberta attack in the regular season was the always-dangerous trio of Jamie Crooks, Jayden Hart, and Tyson Baillie. The group combined for 42 goals and 77 points this season, as Crooks and Baillie finished with a team-high 26 points each. Baillie’s 13 goals and 26 points were also tops among conference freshmen, three points clear of Mount Royal Cougar Jamal Watson.
While the Bears possess a potentially deeper lineup, the Dinos counter with arguably the best pure goal scorer in Canada West. Fourth-year sniper Elgin Pearce led Canada West with 20 goals in 28 conference games, with his 31 overall points second only to MRU Cougar Connor Rankin’s 35. Pearce has also had a fair amount of success in the post-season, entering the weekend with 10 goals in 16 career post-season games.