Anthony Simone, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY – The Mount Royal Cougars grinded out a thrilling first victory of the season against The Regina Cougars in a 5-4 shootout victory.
In the battle of the Cougars, Mount Royal looked to pick up their first win of the season as they took on the University of Regina in the rubber match of their home series Saturday afternoon at Flames Community Arenas.
In the first, MRU came right out of the gate energized and determined to put up a W in front of their home crowd.
Mount Royal controlled the puck early and often spending the majority of the period in the opposition's zone, outshooting Regina 15-7.
University of Regina's first-year goaltender Michael Herringer hung in tough against MRU's attack, until number 9, forward Hunter Zandee, potted the first goal of his young CIS career from the side of the net midway through the period.
Regina went to work on the power play late in the first, with their best scoring chance coming from defenceman Kirk Bear's quick wrist shot from the blue line.
MRU's third-year goalie Colin Cooper got the nod in net over the injured Wyatt Hoflin and looked composed as he held off Regina's late pressure, leading MRU into the first intermission up 1-0.
A nifty reflection off defenceman Isaac Schacher blue line shot from Regina's captain Cody Fowlie tied the game up 3:51 into the second period.
Momentum stayed on MRU'S side, however, as first-year forward Bradley Kennedy ripped home a gorgeous power-play wrist shot from the slot past Herringer, restoring Mount Royals 1 goal lead.
The game turned into a scrappy affair mid-way through the period after Cooper turned down a streaking Stephen Langford's shot, resulting in a scrum behind the net.
MRU widened the gap 17:58 into the period as fourth-year Cougar Zack Henry celebrated his first goal of the season, putting Mount Royal in front 3-1.
Colin Cooper made a couple impressive saves in the final moments, turning away a barrage of shots from Regina's offensive attack late.
The period was once again controlled by MRU as they out shot Regina 18-8 as they took the 2-goal lead into the final period.
Madness ensued in the third period as both teams exchanged a number of penalties through the first half of the third period.
Regina looked to climb back into the game as defenceman Tyler King slapped home a 4 on 4 goal through the 5-hole of Cooper, closing the gap to 3-2.
Penalties once again hurt MRU, as Regina's captain Cody Fowlie scored his second goal of the afternoon on the power play to knot the game up at 3-3.
The quieted crowd at Flames Community Arenas irrupted, as MRU's first-year defenceman Kord Pankewicz bombed a one-timer from Jamal Watson past Herringer with 4:15 left in the game.
The 4-3 Mount Royal lead wouldn't last long.
Regina netted yet another power play goal as Tristan Fei jammed one past Cooper in a mad scramble in front of the net with 2:00 remaining, taking this matchup to overtime for the second straight day at 4-4.
The game would not be solved on either the 4v4 or 3v3 overtimes.
Both goaltenders played well in extra time, turning away the little scoring opportunities they faced, forcing the shootout.
The riveting shootout went to 7 rounds.
With Luke Simpson scoring for MRU, the pressure was on Regina's Colton Sparrow who rung a shot off the post ending the marathon and giving Mount Royal their first victory of the season.
"It's huge to get the win." Said Simpson.
"Give them credit for staying in the game. Their goal late hurt, but we just kept a level head. It shows we got a long way to go, but we have a good bunch of young guys in our locker room."
Mount Royal looks to build upon their victory next week as they take on the Pronghorns in Lethbridge Friday night a 7 p.m.