Calgary, AB – The Mount Royal Cougars defeated the Regina Cougars 6-2 in a matinee affair at Flames Community Arenas. Elisha Cunningham, Kate Hufnagel, Sydney Laurin, Rachel Piitz, Sarah Weninger and Megan Carver scored for Mount Royal. Stephanie Sawchuk scored both goals for Regina.
The early portion of the game was played on the perimeter with little activity by either team. Regina's best scoring chance came just after their power play expired, when a falling Cougars' defender led to a 2-on-1. Mount Royal rookie defender Channia Alexander red the play beautifully, sprawling to break up the play and keep the game scoreless.
Nearing the halfway point of the period, MRU sustained some excellent pressure deep in the Regina zone. Team scoring leader Carley Bertram put a head fake on the defender below the goal line and slid the puck out front. Rookie Elisha Cunningham pounced on it and chipped it under the arm of Jane Kish in the Regina goal.
Emma Pincott was not tested often but when she was, she was very sharp. With 45 seconds left in the period, Mount Royal's defensive structure broke down leading to a mad scramble in front of the net. Pincott denied the league's leading scorer, Jaycee Magwood, on the first attempt and then made a remarkable diving save on a wraparound. In frustration Magwood took a penalty putting Mount Royal on the power play for the duration of the period.
On the power play, Sarah Weninger got the puck to Kate Hufnagel in the slot. Hufnagel fumbled it off her forehand, then spun and fired the puck towards goal. Cutting across, Weninger got a stick on the puck, deflecting it into the far corner, for a 2-0 Mount Royal lead.
The pace was frantic to start the second period, going without a whistle for the first two minutes. After standing up the Regina forward at the blue line, Jocelyn Froehlich went down two-on-two the other way. Froehlich's shot caromed off the defender onto the stick of Sydney Laurin. In one motion, Laurin whipped the puck through the legs of Kish to make it 3-0 MRU.
The Cougars power play was dynamic, with crisp passing and an array of scoring chances. However they couldn't beat Kish on the man advantage. As the penalty expired, Regina threw the puck at the Mount Royal bench during a change, causing a too many men on the ice penalty. Just seconds into the man advantage, a scramble formed in front of Pincott and Stephanie Sawchuk banged the puck home to put Regina on the board.
MRU responded just minutes later when a shot from the point hit a crowd of players in front. Rachel Piitz was the only player who could see the puck and jumped all over it. Piitz slid the puck past the outstretched goaltender to restore Mount Royal's three-goal lead.
Mount Royal kept up their high-tempo play to start the third period, yielding a number of solid scoring chances. They finally converted at the 7:34 minute mark when Rachel Piitz hit a streaking Sarah Weninger in the low slot. Weninger corralled the puck going left to right and slid home a backhand to give Mount Royal their largest lead of the game.
Minutes later a turnover in the neutral zone allowed Regina's goal scorer, Stephanie Sawchuk, to come in on goal. Sawchuk used the defender as a screen and ripped it far side on Pincott to close the gap to three.
Megan Carver added an empty netter to seal Mount Royal's fifth victory of the season.
Mount Royal now sits at 5-6-0-1 in regular season play. Regina drops to 4-5-2-1, now just two points up on Mount Royal for the final playoff spot.
Regina will head back home for a weekend set with the third place Lethbridge Pronghorns. Game one goes Friday night at 7:00pm CST at the Co-operators Centre.
Mount Royal will remain in Calgary next week as they start a home and home series with the Dinos beginning on Thursday night. Puck drop is set for 7:00pm at Flames Community Arenas.