Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON – In what will go down as an instant classic, the No. 2 seed University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team knocked off the No. 3 Calgary Dinos 5-4 in overtime to take a 1-0 series lead in their best of three Canada West semifinal, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
The playoff gem featured the teams combined for six second-period goals and nine total, a new Canada West playoff record, 11 total powerplays, in front of a crowd of over 1,500 in Edmonton on Friday. The win was also the Bears 29th-straight playoff win for Alberta over Calgary, a streak that has been in tact since 1996.
The three goals scored by Calgary in the second period set a new Canada West playoff record for the fastest three goals by one team, finding the scoresheet three times in 0:43 seconds. Danny Gayle, Logan Fisher, and Dryden Dow scored for Calgary during their incredible minute, while Gayle also scored in the first period.
Rhett Rachinski scored twice, including the game-tying goal in the third period to send the game into overtime, while Cole Sanford, Lucas Nickles also scoring for the Bears, and rookie Luke Philp netting the overtime winner 1:52 into the extra frame.
Calgary, who last defeated the Bears 3-0 in Edmonton over a month ago, opened the scoring on Friday. Gayle scored his first of the night four minutes in, beating Bear starter Brendan Burke seconds after the Cole Linaker penalty ended. However, the goal seemed to spark the home side, who went on a 15-3 shot run to end the first. Despite the constant offensive pressure, the Bears couldn't beat Dino goalie Matthew Greenfield.
The dominance finally paid off for the Bears in the second, as they scored three-straight in the opening nine minutes to take a seemingly comfortable 3-1 lead. Sanford opened the run with his first of the playoffs just two minutes in, beating Greenfield on a fantastic solo effort, cutting out from the corner and beating the rookie tender far side. Nickles scored his first of the season on a breakaway just 0:50 seconds later to give Alberta their first lead.
Rachinski capped off the flurry with his first of two, this one shorthanded, capitalizing on the great turnover created by Riley Kieser down low.
But as we have come to learn, no lead is safe in Canada West hockey. The Dinos started their record-setting goal outburst at 11:13, with Gayle netting his second on a rebound in the slot. Fisher tied the game at 11:28, beating Burke from the slot on a delayed Bears penalty. Calgary set the new record at 11:56, with a Dow point shot beating the rookie Alberta goalie glove side. The flurry not only forced Alberta head coach Serge Lajoie to take his timeout, but also chased Burke out of the Alberta net.
Luke Siemens, who replaced Burke, was fantastic in relief, stopping all 14 shots he faced. His crown jewel of a save came early in the third, absolutely robbing Parker Bowles with an unbelievable glove save from in tight. The save sparked the Bears, who evened the game at four, minutes later. Rachinski beat Greenfield from a poor angle, sneaking his shot five-hole.
Neither team could get the game winner late in regulation, sending the back-and-forth roller coaster to overtime.
It didn't take long for the Bears to gain the 1-0 series lead, as Philp tipped in a Trevor Cox shot from the faceoff circle less than two minutes in.
In what will hopefully be as entertaining as Game 1, Game 2 is set for 6:00 p.m. Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.