EDMONTON – The No.4 ranked University of Alberta Pandas hockey team staked themselves to a two goal lead against the Mount Royal Cougars, but had to hang on just for a 3-2 win, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
With the win Alberta improves to 5-2-0 on the season, and is now tied for first place in Canada West with the Calgary Dinos, while Mount Royal drops to 1-5-1 on the year.
Jessica Sekulic, Lindsey Cunningham and Jessica Kampjes scored for the Pandas, while third-year goaltender Lindsey Post made 10 saves for the win. The Pandas finished 0-3 on the power-play, but did strong work on the penalty kill, giving up just one goal on four Mount Royal power-play opportunities, as well as killing off a five minute penalty.
Shawni Rodeback and Tanika Dawson scored for the Cougars, while goalie Emma Pincott was easily the busiest player on the ice as she faced 37 shots, stopping 34 of them, in the loss.
Sekulic got the party started at 8:55 of the opening period, beating Pincott to give Alberta a 1-0 lead that they would carry into the second period.
The Cougars tied the game, while on the power-play, just three minutes into the middle frame, while skating on a 5-on-3 advantage. Rodeback managed to solve Post for her first of the season, which was just the seventh goal against that Post has conceded this season.
Alberta then scored two goals in 30 seconds to take the game over. First, at 7:43, Cunningham tipped Kampjes' shot for the 2-1 Pandas lead, and then just after the face-off, Kampjes struck for her CIS leading seventh goal of the season, putting the Pandas up 3-1 at 8:12 of the second.
Tanika Dawson's second of the season, which came at 4:38 of the third, made the game close, and the Cougars came close to scoring on a few scrambles late in the game, especially while on their final power-play opportunity with five minute remaining in the contest, but the Alberta defence was able to snuff out the Mount Royal pressure, and Sekulic won a key face-off in the Pandas zone with less than five seconds to play to ice the game.
Game two of the home-and-home series gets underway on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at the Flames Community Arena in Calgary.