Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – Luke Simpson scored with 38-seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Mount Royal Cougars to a 2-1 win and a season sweep of the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Despite the loss, the Pronghorns did pick up an important point in the race for post season positions and remain three points ahead of the Calgary Dinos for the final playoff spot. The Pronghorns record is now 8-10-2 and sit three points behind both the Cougars and UBC Thunderbirds.
The Cougars win improves their record to 10-9-1 and keep pace with the UBC Thunderbirds in a battle for fourth spot and a home playoff date.
Justin Valentino scored the lone goal for the Pronghorns, while Connor Rankin had the Cougars goal in regulation time.
A night after the two teams combined for eight goals, the goaltenders were the story at both ends Saturday night. Pronghorn goaltender Garret Hughson stopped 42 of the 44 shots he faced, while Cam Lanigan turned aside 35 Pronghorn shots.
"It was another even game, as expected," said Pronghorn head coach Spiros Anastas. "Both goalies rebounded from incredibly from average performances the night before and stood on their heads."
"At the end of the day, we have to find ways to score. We had chance after chance and we didn't capitalize."
"The loss stings a bit, but a point is always good in a tight playoff race. We have a bight opportunity against UBC next weekend."
The game remained scoreless through 40 minutes but it wasn't from a lack of action. Both goaltenders were tested in the opening frame but both turned aside all 12 shots each of them faced.
In the second, the Cougars held a 19-9 shot advantage but the Pronghorns had two of the more dangerous opportunities.
Lanigan stoned both Sam McKechnie and Dalton Sward on close chances, while Jamal Watson arguably had the most dangerous chance for the Cougars in the period. Watson broke in wide, beating a Pronghorn defender and cutting across the crease, but Hughson was able to get the pad down to make the save.
With a power play past the midway mark of the final period, Rankin broke the deadlock with his point shot beating Hughson high glove for his six of the season.
However, the Cougars lead was short lived, as the Pronghorns tied the score less than three minutes later. Evan Wardley won a corner battle in the offensive end and fed Valentino a cross ice pass. Valentino deposited his seventh of the season blocker side.
Following a spectacular save by Hughson on Jamal Watson, Simpson ended the game on a two-on-one with Kord Pankewicz, who slid a pass over to Simpson for a tap in into an open net.
Mount Royal finished the game 1-for-4 on the power play, while the Pronghorns failed to score on six opportunities.
The Pronghorns will head out the road next weekend, traveling to Vancouver to face the UBC Thunderbirds. Mount Royal will host the Manitoba Bisons for a pair of games next weekend.