EDMONTON – Stephane Legault scored the game winner with 1:14 left in the third period, lifting the Golden Bears to a 3-2 win over the Calgary Dinos, and a 2-0 series sweep in their Canada West best-of-three semifinal, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
The Golden Bears will now advance to the Canada West Final next weekend, and have also booked their spot in the U SPORTS Championship, March 16-19 in Fredericton, NB.
For the second-straight year, it will be the Golden Bears travelling to Saskatoon for the Canada West Final, and a meeting with the Saskatchewan Huskies. This will be a Canada West record 19th meeting in the final between these two teams, with the Golden Bears holding an 11-7 all-time record against the Huskies, and a 26-12 all-time Canada West Final record.
The series sweep was also the 15th-straight playoff series win for Alberta over Calgary, and their 30th-straight playoff win overall. The last Calgary win came back in 1996, a 2-0 series sweep in Calgary.
Rookie Golden Bear Luke Philp scored a pair to go along with the late tally by Legault, one night after scoring the overtime winner in Game 1. Brendan Burke stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced to earn his first career playoff win. Parker Bowles and Danny Gayle scored for the Dinos on Saturday, while rookie goalie Matthew Greenfield stopped 40 in a losing effort.
Coming off arguably one of the best playoff games in Canada West this season, the intensity didn’t let down in the first period of Game 2. The two teams combined for 21 shots, 11 coming from Alberta, with the first of two from Philp the only goal on the board. Fellow rookie Cole Sanford picked off Dino defenceman Dryden Dow in the Calgary zone, before feeding Philp in front who beat a sprawling Greenfield.
The two rivals exchanged chances throughout the second, with both Burke and Greenfield coming up with crucial saves. The Dinos would finally get the equalizer late, as Bowles beat Burke off a rebound with just four seconds left in the second.
It didn’t take long into the third for Alberta to restore their lead, as Philp notched his third of the series six minutes into the frame. Late on their third powerplay of the night, Philp unleashed a wicked one-timer off a sweet feed from Dylan Bredo.
On the brink of elimination, the Dinos turned up the pressure in hopes of tying the game. It took only four minutes for them to do so, with another rebound costing the Bears in tight. Elgin Pearce’s initial shot was turned aside by Burke, but Gayle was in the perfect position to bury the rebound.
Alberta had their first chance for the go-ahead goal with five minutes left, but Greenfield absolutely robbed Legault on an abbreviated two-on-one.
Legault wouldn’t be denied on his second chance in the final minutes, beating Greenfield of a rebound created by Tyson Baillie. The Dinos had a good look late, but a pair of blocked shots iced the Bears thrilling Game 2 win.
The best-of-three Canada West Final will get underway from Rutherford Rink on Friday night, and will be streamed live on CanadaWest.TV