EDMONTON – It was an offensive affair as the University of Alberta Pandas dominated the Mount Royal University Cougars in 5-1 win, taking Game 1 of the best-of-three Canada West Final, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
With the win, Alberta takes the series lead and will look to win a record 14th Canada West Championship tomorrow night on home ice. Mount Royal on the other hand will be looking to bounce back in order to force a third and final Game 3 in their first ever conference final.
“For the most part I thought we played very well. I liked our puck movement, I liked our pressure. I felt like we were moving our feet, which is important against MRU, because they are fast and work hard,” said Pandas head coach Howie Draper. “At times I felt like we won some of those battles, and other times they did. So it’s a great start, but we have to be more consistent tomorrow.”
After a semifinal match up that resulted in only two goals last weekend, Alberta found plenty of offence with Madison Willan, Autumn MacDougall, Kelsey Tangjerd, Kennedy Ganser, and Abby Benning all finding the back of the net, while Kirsten Chamberlin had 13 saves in the victory.
Across the ice the Cougars struggled to find the goal scoring success they have had so far throughout the playoffs, as Jayden Thorpe was the lone goal scorer, while Kaitlyn Ross and Zoe DeBeauville combined for 20 saves.
“I thought we got off to a decent start. But as the game wore on, their powerplay took over a little bit, and capitalized on some opportunities,” said Cougars head coach Scott Rivett. “I think early on in the game we kept it simple, and tried to play with some pace.”
After being named Rookie of the Year earlier this week, Willian opened the scoring for the Pandas in the first, capitalizing on a drop pass from MacDougall at the top of the slot to beat Ross up high and scoring her first of the post-season.
With her first goal being called back in the first due to a penalty being called, MacDougall would have to wait until midway through the second frame to get her second of the playoffs, jumping on the loose puck and tapping it in a wide-open net for a powerplay goal.
Wasting no time in the third, the Pandas extended their lead when Tangjerd found herself in scoring position in the middle of the ice, snapping one home past the glove of Ross. Minutes later Ganser’s tip in front would also find its way into the back of the net.
Looking to keep the game within reach, Mount Royal would opt for a goalie change and a timeout following the Pandas fourth goal. But the home side would keep rolling, as Benning capitalized on the power-play.
However, before the announcer could finish announcing Alberta’s fifth goal, Mount Royal would get their first goal of the game as Thorpe’s wrist shot found a way through a crowd and into the back of the net, ending Chamberlin’s playoff shutout streak at 222:76 minutes.
Game 2 of the Canada West Final is set for tomorrow night with puck drop at 7:00 PM at Clare Drake Arena.