Bears clinch 'bye' with shutout win

Bears clinch 'bye' with shutout win

EDMONTON – In a contrast to the previous night's offensive explosion, the University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team edged the Mount Royal Cougars 2-0, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.

Graduating players Thomas Carr and Levko Koper were the goal scorers for the Bears, while Luke Siemens stopped all 20 shots he faced to earn his fourth shutout of the season, which also ties a conference record for most in a single season. Incidentally, he shares the record with Clayton Pool (2001-02) and Dustin Schwartz (2003-04, 2004-05), who are both Golden Bears hockey alumni.

With plenty at stake for both teams in the regular season finale, Alberta and MRU came out flying in the first period, exchanging quality shots and scoring chances. Brett Ferguson had the first great scoring opportunity halfway through the first, but rung his wrist-shot from the slot off the crossbar.

After Matt Bellerive was sent to the box for goalie interference, the Bears struck on their first power-play of the game, with just 50 seconds left in the first. Carr's snap-shot from the point found a way through a screen, and past Colin Cooper to open the scoring.

The second period, however, moved considerably slower than the first, with the teams managing just five shots each. The Cougars had their best chance to even the game in the final two minutes of the second period, but Siemens robbed Zack Henry with a great left-arm save off the breakaway.

Both teams continued to struggle offensively in the third, with the game developing into a tight checking, defensive battle. Neither team found any consistent offence, as the Bears were able to hold the Cougars to just six third-period shots. Koper would end any hope of a comeback with an empty-net goal in the final minute, sealing the two-goal Alberta win.

With the back-to-back regulation wins over the Cougars, the Golden Bears vault past their provincial rivals into the conference's No. 2 seed, earning a first-round playoff 'bye', and will host a Canada West semi-final series February 26-28 at Clare Drake Arena.

The Cougars, meanwhile, will head home for a conference quarter-final series, where they will play host the conference's No. 6 seed.