Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - The top-ranked Alberta Golden Bears advanced to their sixth-straight Canada West Final, as they eliminated the visiting Mount Royal Cougars 6-1 in Game 2 of their semifinal series, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena.
The Golden Bears will defend their conference title on home ice next weekend, as they will host the Saskatchewan Huskies in Final at Clare Drake Arena. The Bears vs Huskies series will be the third-straight time the two conference rivals have met in the Canada West Final, with Alberta winning in 2017, and Saskatchewan earning a title in 2016.
For Mount Royal, Saturday's Game 2 loss represents their fourth-straight loss in the conference semifinal, and the second in three years at the hands of the Bears.
The win also gives Alberta a berth into the 2018 University Cup in Fredericton, with the top two teams in Canada West qualifying for the U SPORTS Championship.
A well-balanced attack saw five different Bears score on Saturday, as Dylan Bredo netting a pair, while Stephane Legault, Trevor Cox, Graeme Craig, and Sawyer Lange also finding the back of the net for Alberta. Sophomore goalie Brendan Burke stopped 22 of the 23 shots he faced, earning his fifth career post-season win.
Coming off a well played Game 1, Mount Royal struggled to match the pace of Alberta in Game 2, as Brad Kennedy was the only Cougar to find the scoresheet.
The start to Game 2 was a drastic change from the previous night for Alberta, as they took control early in the first. With a large advantage on the shot clock, Legault finally opened the scoring for Alberta midway through the first. Lange doubled the Bears lead just 19 seconds later, as his point shot hit a pair of bodies in front, before sliding past Cougar netminder Cam Lanigan.
Desperation started to creep into Mount Royal's play, as they chipped into the Alberta lead early in the second. Kennedy scored his second of the weekend six minutes in, trimming the Bears lead to just one. The second period was much closer than the first, as the Cougars, fighting to stay alive, outshot Alberta 7-6. However, two late goals in the second all but sealed their fate. Cox restored the two-goal Alberta lead at 15:11, before Bredo scored the first of his two at 17:10, blowing a wrist shot over Lanigan's shoulder.
Brendan Burke was forced to make a handful of stops on good scoring chances for Mount Royal early in the third, turning in one of his best performances this season. The Bears were able to ice the Game 2 win late, as Craig and Bredo ended the Cougars comeback with tallies in the final four minutes.
Game 1 of next weekend's Canada West Final will get underway at 7:00 p.m. on Friday night at Clare Drake Arena. Game 2, and if necessary, Game 3, will both go at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday night, respectively.