Cougars steal overtime thriller from Pronghorns

Cougars steal overtime thriller from Pronghorns

University of Regina Sports Information

REGINA - It was a thrilling conclusion at The Co-operators Centre on Saturday afternoon, as Kylee Kupper's goal with less than a second left forced overtime before Bailey Braden scored in the extra frame to give the University of Regina women's hockey team a 3-2 win over the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Kupper scored twice for the Cougars, with Braden netting the overtime winner. Sarah Spence and Keely Chalk were Lethbridge's goal scorers.

A day after Alicia Anderson stopped 53 shots in a Lethbridge win, the second-year netminder was even better, making 64 saves including 28 in the third period.

After a scoreless first period, the Pronghorns opened the scoring at the 4:56 mark of the second. Cora Place went on a solo mission into the Cougar end, looping around the net before putting a long shot on goal. The shot was stopped by Jane Kish but the rebound bounced up and over the netminder, and Spence was there to knock in her second of the season.

Regina replied six minutes later, as a long stretch pass from Jaycee Magwood ended up on the stick of Kupper between two Pronghorn defenders. Kupper used her speed to break in alone, and made a great deke to get around Anderson and pot her first goal of the campaign.

"Coach Hodges had told us before the game that their goalie likes to come out of her net, so if we found ourselves in tight we should deke instead of shoot," Kupper said. "After that first goal I felt more relaxed, and I think it opened up my game for me."

Lethbridge would seesaw back into the lead early in the third period right after a Cougar powerplay. It seemed like the Cougars were destined to score with the man-advantage but Anderson and the 'Horns defence stood tall. Chalk came out of the penalty box and took a long feed ahead behind the Cougar defence, going in unimpeded and slipping one through the five-hole of Kish.

It took the Cougars every second of remaining regulation to even things up again, as they played the final two minutes and 16 seconds with Kish on the bench. Kylie Gavelin and Magwood were peppering shots on net, but could not solve the puzzle that was Anderson. After a Magwood slapshot looped all the way around the boards and back behind the Cougar net, Regina mounted one last attack with 15 seconds to play. Magwood sent another shot on goal that Anderson turned aside, but Kupper found herself with the puck near the side of the net. Her quick wrist shot went bar-down right as the buzzer sounded, and the goal would stand, forcing overtime.

"I didn't know how much time was left on the clock, I saw the puck sitting there and saw Anderson was down," the fourth-year winger said. "I tried to get the puck up and put everything I had behind it, and thankfully it got there in time."

A deflated and exhausted Lethbridge team didn't put up much of a fight in the four-on-four extra frame, as the Cougars registered four shots on goal to the Pronghorn's zero. Braden wrapped things up at the 2:31 mark, taking a feed from Sam Geekie and ripping a wrist shot high to Anderson's glove side to give the Cougars the win.

"The bench was riding a high heading into the overtime period, but we all had the same mindset," Braden said following the game. "We wanted to win and we knew we had to work hard to earn those two points."

Kish stopped 17 shots to maintain her perfect record this season at 3-0.

"It was a tough weekend, Lethbridge is a very tough team," Kupper explained. "All those shots with no goals was frustrating, but I think it says a lot about our team that we were able to stick with it and get it done."

Regina hits the road for the first time this season next weekend, visiting the Manitoba Bisons for a Thursday-Friday series.

"We'll really need to work hard in practice this week, we've got to maintain our focus and continue to trust each other," Braden added. "Getting shots through is obviously going to be a focus."