Riding one of their longest point streaks in over a decade, the U SPORTS No. 1 ranked Alberta Golden Bears host the Lethbridge Pronghorns in their final full home series of the regular season.
The 20-3-1 Bears and 8-14-2 Pronghorns will open their series at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night at Clare Drake Arena, with the rubber match slated for the same time on Saturday.
Entering Friday, the Bears have won nine straight conference games, while earning a point in 17 straight games.
Alberta is 16-0-1 during that span, with the only loss being a 4-3 overtime defeat in Saskatchewan in December. The Bears 4-1 home win over UBC started the streak on October 27th.
The point streak marks the longest since they earned a point in 28 straight conference games during the 2003/2004 season.
Chase for No. 1
With four conference games remaining, the playoff picture is starting to take shape. Saskatchewan has locked up a top two seed, and a “bye” through the quarter-finals, while Alberta needs another win to do the same.
What may come down to the final game, however, is the coveted No. 1 seed. Five of the last six teams who finished first won the conference title.
Alberta will battle Calgary in the season finale next week, while Saskatchewan has Mount Royal and Manitoba left on their schedule.
After leading the conference with 40 points a year ago, third-year Bear Luke Philp is on pace to break that lofty mark.
Philp recorded six points last weekend in Regina, earning the Canada West First Star of the Week honours. Four of his six points came via goals on Friday, as he became the first Bear since 2013 to score four goals in a single game.
During his current seven-game point streak, the former Red Deer Rebel has 11 goals and six assists, and now leads the conference with 37 points in 20 games. He is also the first Bear since Ryan Wade in 2004 to record 20 conference goals in one season.
On the opposite end of the playoff spectrum is the sixth-place Lethbridge Pronghorns. The top five teams have already clinched playoff spots, with the sixth and final spot still up for grabs.
The Pronghorns currently hold a six-point lead over Manitoba for the No. 6 seed. Lethbridge does, however, hold the tie-breaker over Manitoba, meaning the Bisons will need to surpass Lethbridge’s point total. One more Lethbridge win will clinch their playoff spot.
Lethbridge is also the host of the 2019 University Cup, which will run March 15-17 at the ENMAX Centre.