Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - Sophomore forward Cole Sanford scored his team-leading third and fourth goals of the season, as the No. 2 ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears hockey team earned a 5-2 win, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
Jamie Crooks and Jason Fram also scored for the Bears, while rookie Brandon Magee found the net for his first career tally. Brendan Burke stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced, including ten stops in the third period, to earn his second win of the season. Nick Zajac scored both Manitoba goals, one in each the first and third periods. Byron Spriggs was handed the loss after allowing five goals on 37 Alberta shots. The win is Alberta's (3-0-0) third of the season, while Manitoba slips to 1-2 in conference play this season.
Following an impressive sweep of Mount Royal the weekend prior, Alberta opened Friday night's match with some speed and explosiveness. However, a flurry of nice saves from Spriggs, as well as some missed chances from the Bears, kept the game scoreless. Spriggs' play sparked the Bisons offensively midway through the first, with Zajac scoring the games first goal ten minutes in. After a turnover at the Bears line, Zajac drove the far post, and tapped in a rebound the snuck through Burke in the Alberta crease.
Sanford quickly leveled the game at one, scoring just three minutes later. The second-year Bear was sprung on a two-on-one break with Trevor Cox, who fed a beautiful pass over to Sanford, who ripped a shot high on Spriggs.
Crooks doubled the Alberta lead just 40 seconds into the second period, tapping in a rebound created off the shot from in tight by Stephane Legault. The goal was Crooks' third of the season, as the fifth-year forward has now scored in three-straight conference games to open the season.
Both sides had equal chances to get back on the board, but every sniff at a scoring chance was either turned aside by the respective goalies, or broken up by defenders.
In his first start of the season, Magee showed off his speed and skill throughout the night, scoring yet on another rebound to give Alberta a 3-1 lead. Another tricky shot fooled Spriggs, who coughed up another puck to a waiting Bear, this time six minutes into the second. Zajac would cut the Alberta back to lead to one just, knocking the puck out of mid-air two minutes after the Magee goal. His second goal of the night was highlight-reel worthy, and trimmed the Bears lead down to 3-2.
However, the offensive persistence and depth of the Bears came through late in the third, as Sanford found the net for the second time with three minutes left, before Fram sealed the win with two minutes left in the third.
The Golden Bears and Bisons have one more tilt this weekend, with the series rubber match scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. puck drop at Clare Drake Arena on Saturday, and live on Canada West TV.