Following the winter semester break, the University of Alberta Golden Bears Hockey team will resume conference play this weekend, as they host the Manitoba Bisons at Clare Drake Arena.
Games will go on both Friday and Saturday night, with a 7:00 p.m. puck drop scheduled for both games. The weekend series will also be streamed live online at Canada West TV.
Earning a split in their final weekend before the break, the Bears finished 2018 with a 12-3-1 record, with their 25 points ranking second behind Saskatchewan (28).
The Bisons, meanwhile, have not come close to expectations this season, as they sit in a tie for last in Canada West with a 3-12-1 conference record.
Past 10 Games
The Golden Bears were sensational in the stretch drive to end 2018, winning eight of their final nine conference games. They also outscored their opponents 46-15 during that time.
The Bisons needed a win over Calgary in their final game before the break to snap a long losing streak. Prior to their 3-1 win, Manitoba had lost 12-straight games, a streak dating back to a 3-2 home win over Alberta on October 12th.
Canada West announced the first-ever winner of a new award, as Bears forward Luke Philp was named the CW First Half Top Performer.
Philp is tied for the conference scoring leading with 20 points (9G-11A), despite missing four games with an injury. The former Kootenay Ice forward led Canada West in scoring last season, en route to capturing the league MVP trophy. He is also one of four Bears inside the top 10 in conference scoring, alongside Jason Fram, Riley Kieser and Cole Sanford.
True to form, the Golden Bears special teams units this season have elite.
The Bears lead Canada West by a fair margin on the powerplay, as they are tops with a 24.1% success rate.
Scoring six of their 20 powerplay goals has been Philp, who leads Canada West with nine powerplay points.
Alberta has also allowed only six powerplay goals against, the fewest in Canada West, while scoring four shorthanded goals, the most in the conference.
First Weekend Series
The two squads met in the first series of October, with the two programs earning a win each.
Manitoba, thanks to a 36-save performance by goalie Byron Spriggs, took Game 1 3-2.
The Golden Bears bounced back the following night, earning a 4-1 win thanks to two points from Philp, and 19 saves from starting goalie Zach Sawchenko.
This weekend will mark their final conference series this season, before potentially meeting in the postseason.