EDMONTON - Looking to continue their historic hot streak, the Golden Bears came out flying tonight, pumping four shots onto Pronghorns goaltender Garret Hughson within the first couple of minutes. The offensive pressure did not stop at any point as the home side walked away from this one with a 6-0 victory.
The win gives the Bears their tenth straight victory and also marks the 18th straight contest where they’ve been able to walk away with at least a point, going 17-0-1 during that stretch. It also clinches a top-two seed for Alberta, and a first round playoff bye.
The loss hurts Lethbridge's playoff quest, dropping them to 8-15-2. Alberta sits second in Canada West with a 21-3-1 marl.
Depth was a deciding factor for Alberta once again tonight with the team getting four different goal scorers. Riley Kieser got the scoring started at the 11:05 mark of the opening period and after that, the Bears got goals from Stephane Legault, Jason Fram (x2), Cole Sanford, and Brandon Magee.
While the score wasn’t pretty, this one could have been a lot worse had it not been for Hughson, who was both busy and tremendous. The third-year stopper faced a total of 59 shots in this one and 23 in the first period alone, he made a handful of ten-bell saves.
His counterpart tonight, Zach Sawchenko wasn’t terribly busy, stopping 14 shots in the shutout performance. The clean sheet allowed him to improve on his league lead in goals against average, which was a 1.57 heading into tonight. It was also Sawchenko's fifth shutout, which sets a new single-season Canada West record.
While the Bears were no doubt good enough at even strength in this one, their special teams simply added more fuel to the fire. Alberta scored twice with the man advantage and poured nine shots on goal during their three attempts with the powerplay. While shorthanded, the Bears actually did a better job of generating offence than the Pronghorns. I counted just two high-grade scoring chances for Lethbridge while on the powerplay, they only had five shots on goal, while I counted four high-danger shorthanded for Alberta, who had two shots during their two penalty kills.
Two points for Alberta allows them to stay just one point behind the conference-leading Saskatchewan Huskies, who defeated Mount Royal in overtime earlier in the night.
For the Pronghorns, their magic number to clinch the playoffs sits at one. They need either a win in one of their final three games or a Manitoba loss if they want to clinch the playoffs.
These two teams will meet again tomorrow night from Clare Drake Arena with puck drop set for just after 7 pm.