T-birds’ drive too much for Pandas

T-birds’ drive too much for Pandas

EDMONTON – Coming into the game still fighting for second place in the conference standings, the No.7 UBC Thunderbirds got the win they needed, taking a 3-1 decision over the No.4 University of Alberta Pandas, Saturday afternoon at Clare Drake Arena.

Rookie rearguard Celine Tardif scored a pair of goals, her first two tallies of the season, while third-year forward Jenna Carpenter-Boesch had a goal and an assist to clinch UBC's "bye" to the Canada West semi-finals, February 27 – March 1.

Third-year blueliner Kirsten Toth scored the lone goal for the home team, part of a third-period comeback attempt that came up short.

With the win, the T-birds finish second in the conference standings, reclaiming the spot from the Manitoba Bisons, who held it momentarily with a single point in an overtime loss earlier in the afternoon. Alberta clinched the top spot in Canada West on Friday.

The Pandas' win over UBC the night before had notable effects to this afternoon's match, Alberta notably not dressing usual goaltender Lindsey Post as well as fourth-year forward Janelle Froehler, despite a three-game goal-scoring streak.

The home team also couldn't match the T-birds' highly-motivated effort in the opening frame, Carpenter-Boesch getting the visitors on the scoreboard only 5:25 into the first, finding a rebound off a point shot in front and sneaking it underneath freshman netminder Hannah Baker.

On a two-man advantage, Tardif doubled the lead at the 16:12 mark, her point shot ricocheting off a screening Panda to elude Baker and find the twine.

Down 2-0 after one, Alberta struggled to find momentum in the middle stanza, aided by several trips to the penalty box, though rookie forward Hannah Olenyk started to shift things with her chance in tight on a Panda man-advantage late in the period.

Unfortunately for the home team, Tardif responded with UBC's third goal just over a minute later, a wristshot from the point hitting another Alberta body to deflect up to the top shelf where Baker had no chance.

Outshot 7-1 in the second frame, the game seemed all but over for the Pandas, but a renewed fight flowed through the Alberta squad to start the third, catching up to the T-birds on the shot clock and getting a great opportunity with a full two-minute five-on-three power-play midway through the final frame.

On a gamble, the Pandas coaching staff pulled Baker to make it a six-on-three advantage, succeeding near the end of the two minutes when third-year defender Kelly Murray dived for a block at the point, Toth wheeling around her and coming in on net, roofing a wristshot from the hashmarks to make it 3-1 with 11:32 left to go.

Yet despite outshooting UBC by an incredible 13-0 margin in the final 20 minutes, Alberta couldn't find another goal, fourth-year netminder Samantha Langford holding off the Pandas for the crucial Thunderbird victory.

Alberta finished 1-4 on the power-play while UBC went 1-6.

Both teams will await the results of the two best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series next weekend to determine their respective opponents in two weeks.

Game notes: Fifth-year rearguard Kayla Lavallee played her final regular season game for Alberta, finalizing her team record at a total of 126 games. The Calgary native finishes just shy of the Canada West record, Regina's Kendra Finch and Lethbridge's Glenda Edie both hitting a mark of 128 between the 2009-10 and 2013-14 seasons.