Opening their season with consecutive series splits, the 2-2-0 Alberta Golden Bears
will host the 2-2-0 Mount Royal Cougars this weekend in a home-and-home series.
The Cougars will host the No. 3 ranked Bears on Friday night in Calgary, with the Bears hosting the rematch at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
Saturday night’s tilt will be the third home game for the Bears, after splitting their season-opening series against Saskatchewan in September. They followed that with another split in Winnipeg against the Manitoba Bisons, bouncing back from a 3-2 loss with a convincing 4-1 win.
Mount Royal, meanwhile, opened their 2018 Canada West season with back-to-back impressive home wins over Regina, before falling back to earth with a pair of losses to UBC in Vancouver.
The two provincial rivals will also meet in another home-and-home series in late January (19th and 20th).
Not normally known for his offensive prowess, fifth-year Bears captain Riley Kieser has quickly started racking up points through four games. Kieser leads Canada West with seven points, all of which have been assists. The Edmonton, Alta. product is almost halfway to his career-high in points, which he set as a sophomore in 2015/16 with 16 in 27 games.
Kieser has accumulated 64 points in 111 career games for the Golden Bears.
While hard to replicate the incredible success the team had last year, the Bears season hasn’t started quite as well as anticipated. Including their non-conference games and trip to Colorado, the Bears own a 6-5-1 overall record.
In the three previous seasons under head coach Ian Herbers, the Bears finished with overall records of 38-7, 44-5, and 37-7, winning national titles in the final two years.
This weekend will feature three of the hottest goalies in Canada West, in Cougar Riley Morris and Colin Cooper, and Golden Bear Zach Sawchenko.
Morris, a first-year Cougar, has been stellar in two starts, posting a 2-0 record and 1.95 goals against average. Despite losing both games to UBC, Cooper was sharp, stopping 65 of the 69 shots he faced.
Sawchenko has played in three of the Bears four conference games, winning two. The second-year Bear leads Canada West with a 1.68 goals against average, and ranks sixth with a .921 save percentage.
The Golden Bears had little trouble with the Cougars last season, en route to a 23-4-1 conference record. The Bears went 4-0 against MRU in conference play, outscoring the Cougars 19-4.
The Cougars did upset the Manitoba Bisons in the conference quarter-final, before getting swept by Alberta in the Canada West semifinal.