EDMONTON – Winning a conference record 14th Canada West Championship, the University of Alberta Pandas defeated the Mount Royal University Cougars 2-0 in Game 2 of the Canada West Final, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
“It wasn’t pretty. I know we worked hard, I know we put everything that we could into the game, and we got great goaltending,” said Pandas head coach Howie Draper. “We did a lot of the little things that we need to do to get the win and it was good in the end.”
With the win, the Pandas claim their second-consecutive conference title after knocking off the Manitoba Bisons in last year’s final and the Cougars this year.
The Cougars and Pandas will both advance to U SPORTS Championship in two weeks’ time, hosted by the University of Prince Edward Island.
After lighting the lamp five times the night before, the Pandas would only need two goals to seal the deal in Game 2, with Alex Poznikoff and Madison Willan finding the back of the net.
Backstopping the home side to victory was goaltender Kirsten Chamberlin, who had a perfect night stopping all 17 shots she faced. Meanwhile, Cougars goaltender Kaitlyn Ross had 15 saves in the loss.
“I liked our game today. I thought it got away from us yesterday, but we stuck to our game plan today and in the end their power-play came through for them and that ends up being the difference maker,” said Cougars head coach Scott Rivett. “I’m proud of our group, proud of how we played today, and we will try to build on that as we move forward.”
After returning from injury in the conference semifinal last weekend, Poznikoff found her first goal of the post-season, adding to her 24 points during the regular season. Scoring on the Pandas first power-play of the night Poznikoff was able to get her stick on Lindsay Weech’s point shot, tipping it pass Ross for the lead midway through the first.
The home crowd would have to wait until the third to see the Pandas second goal of the night, scoring with 7:18 left in the game. Once again, the Pandas converted on the power-play, as Willian set up all alone down low, off a pass from Captain Cayle Dillon, walking in and lifting the puck near post over Ross’ shoulder, extending the lead to two.
Pulling Ross with 2:40 to go for the extra attacker, the Cougars found themselves unable to get a shot on net as the final buzzer went and the Pandas bench flooded the ice, scattering sticks and gloves and claiming the conference championship.
“It’s always nice. I mean Canada West is such a tough conference now that anytime you can win it, that’s something very special,” added Draper on his team’s record 14th conference title.
Next action for the Cougars and Pandas will be at the U SPORTS Championship, as both teams will travel across the country to the University of Prince Edward Island on March 12-15.