Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY- Mount Royal's graduating players, including Cougar captain Jamie King, Tanner Olstad, Sebastian Pare and net-minder Cam Lanigan, were honoured prior to puck drop on Saturday afternoon.
MRU defeated the UBC Thunderbirds 3-0 in the pivotal rubber match and snapped the T-Birds' seven-game winning streak while snapping their own four-game losing skid.
Lanigan stopped 17 pucks on route to his first shutout of the season in his final game.
He comments "That was honestly the easiest game I've played and the best defensive game we played all year,"
Special teams were a key difference in the Cougar game-plan as the Cougars scored twice on the man-advantage out of six chances and killed off all three UBC power play opportunities.
"We were pretty sloppy in all aspects last night, we started to tighten up and play from the d-zone up and that really helped us create offence." Lanigan also stated post-game.
Heading into the Feb 3. contest, Mount Royal clinched a playoff berth on the merits of Lethbridge getting swept by Manitoba earlier in the day. Lethbridge lost today 7-3 to the Bisons, taking the 'Horns out of playoff contention.
After an uneventful first period, the Cougars took their first lead of the weekend 5:55 into the second period on Jesse Lees' 11th goal of the season.
"Big bounce-back game for us for sure, we all know last night wasn't our best performance, so we got to prove who we were tonight" Lees stated after the game.
The second-year defender danced his way from the corner of the blue-line, cutting his way into the top of the slot and slipped a shot past the crowd of bodies and past UBC net-minder Rylan Toth.
Toth stopped 19 of 22 shots on goal.
As the period progressed, the action started to slowly pick up for MRU as the Cougars capitalized on their fourth power play of the game and doubled their lead at 14:49 on Josh Bly's fourth goal of the season.
Breaking into the zone three-on-two, Jamal Watson rifled a pass to Bly. He chipped the puck in, giving MRU a 2-0 lead heading into the final break.
Shots heading into the third period were a mere 14-7 for the Cougars who played way more defensively sound than the night previous.
Defender Grant Baker blasted the puck on a one-timed shot past Toth to give MRU a 3-0 lead 8:31 inside the period to seal the game for his side.
MRU adjusted accordingly for the third period and kept shutting down the T-Birds potent offence to hold on for the 3-0 win.
UBC will be battling Alberta in their final weekend and will still be in a fight for the two home-ice playoff spots with Manitoba while MRU travels to Saskatchewan for a weekend with the Huskies to decide their playoff fate.
Lee emphasized the importance of tonight's win by saying "To get some momentum going into the weekend against Sask. is huge. We're going there to get four points, that's the bottom line."