WHKY: Pandas hold off Cougars to take Game 1

WHKY: Pandas hold off Cougars to take Game 1

Connor Hood - Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON - The University of Alberta Pandas withstood a late flurry from the visiting Regina Cougars, hanging on to take Game 1 of their quarter-final series 2-1, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena. 

Hannah Olenyk and Alex Poznikoff each scored late in the first and second periods, respectively, for Alberta, who jump ahead 1-0 in their best-of-three series. Starting goalie Kirsten Chamberlin stopped 14 of the 15 shots she faced, including five in the third period, to earn her first career playoff win. 

Jaycee Magwood scored the only Regina goal with 1:19 left in the third, as the fifth-seeded Cougars were unable to complete the comeback in the final minutes.

Despite being somewhat of a heavy underdog entering the quarter-final series, the visiting Cougars owned a majority of the play and chances in the first period. Rookie Cougar Jordan Kuldiba had the best chances early on, but she was robbed twice by Chamberlin on the Regina two-on-one break. The second-year Panda made eight saves in the opening frame, including another pair against Emma Waldenberger, keeping Regina off the board. 

The missed chances came back to haunt Regina, as Alberta scored on their first real opportunity of the game. Amy Boucher started the play with a fantastic pass to a streaking Olenyk, who beat her defender, before sliding a shot through Kish's pads to open the scoring. 

Regina's pace and offence were completely absent in the second, as they were held to just one shot. Alberta kept the pressure high, creating a handful of turnovers, and forcing Kish to make a pair of strong saves. The Pandas resiliency and relentless forecheck finally payed off again late, as Poznikoff beat Kish from distance late in the second on a fluttering puck from the slot. 

It was nearly 30 minutes from the end of the first to midway through the third between Regina shots, as their first period offence completely evaporated. Desperation, however, finally set in halfway into the third, as the Cougars finally found some rhythm. That re-found attack came through late in regulation, as Magwood broke the Panda shutout, tapping in the loose puck in the Panda crease. 

Chamberlin made two last-second saves, however, to negate the Cougar comeback in Game 1. 

Game 2 of the quarter-final series goes tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. at Clare Drake Arena, as the Pandas aim for a series sweep, while Regina looks to send the series to Game 3 on Sunday.