Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - In another dominant performance against their bitter rivals, the University of Alberta Golden Bears swept the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies Saturday with a 5-1 win in Game 2 of the Canada West Men's Hockey Final to claim their second consecutive conference banner.
Canada West Defenceman of the Year and former Spokane Chief Jason Fram scored twice in the first period, while Cole Sanford, Stephane Legault, and Jamie Crooks also scored for Alberta, who captured their 27th Canada West banner, and 54th overall conference title in program history.
"Saskatchewan made us work for everything we got. What I really admired from our group was the second, third, and fourth efforts from some of our guys," said Golden Bears head coach Serge Lajoie. "It just shows that team-first attitude that we have been pushing out guys to adopt all year."
Andrew Johnson scored the lone Saskatchewan goal late in the third, as the Huskies have now dropped back-to-back conference finals against Alberta.
Fram opened the scoring just 2:17 into the opening period of Game 2 with a deflection off a point shot from Graeme Craig, before doubling the Alberta lead with his second of the period with four minutes left in the frame.
"Any given night it's anyone on our team (that steps up), that's what so special with this group of guys," said Fram post-game. "It's unbelievable. We have that depth that any line on any night can get the job done."
Arguably the biggest factor in the Bears sweep of Saskatchewan was the special teams play between the two program powers. Alberta added two more power play goals on Saturday, coupled with three goals on six chances the night before. The Golden Bears also shut down the Huskies unit, as the visitors went 0-9 on the man advantage in the sweep.
Sanford added his first of the playoffs on the Bears power play in the second, beating Huskie starter Taran Kozun with a laser from the half-wall.
"We wanted to really keep it simple. Threaten shot, make sure we had net presence. We needed to take Kozun's eyes away. We knew he was a good goaltender." said Lajoie on the Bears special teams. "Sanford's was just a goal scorers goal. It's plays like that, they generate momentum, and on the power play at the very least we wanted to generate some momentum, and we did a good job of that this weekend."
Legault and Crooks sealed Alberta's win with goals of their own within the first ten minutes of the third period. With the win, the Golden Bears also completed a perfect season at Clare Drake Arena, going 14-0 at home in conference play, and 4-0 during the Canada West playoffs.
"We have to celebrate this Canada West championship, but we also have to recognize that we have another level that we need to get to," finished Lajoie. "Every team at the national championship has a chance to win. I think we are in a spot where our depth is exactly it needs to be at."
Both Alberta and Saskatchewan will now head to Fredericton, New Brunswick March 15-18 for the 2018 U SPORTS University Cup, hosted by the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds.