WHKY: Pandas shutout defending champs in home-opener

WHKY: Pandas shutout defending champs in home-opener

Connor Hood, Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON - Reigning Canada West points leader Autumn MacDougall scored the lone goal for the Alberta Pandas, who defeated the defending conference and national champion Manitoba Bisons 1-0 Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.

Dayna Owen stopped all seven shots she faced to earn her first win of the season for Alberta, who improve to 2-1-0-0 this season. The loss is the first for Manitoba, who swept Calgary to start their season last weekend in Winnipeg. 

Looking for a small slice of revenge after being eliminated by the Bisons in last years Canada West Semifinal, the Pandas raced out to a quick start on Friday night. The hosts quickly started peppering Lauren Taraschuk in the Bison net, finishing the first period with a 11-2 shot advantage. MacDougall finally capitalized on the Pandas possession, firing a puck from behind the goal line off a Bison defender and into the Manitoba net. 

Both teams upped their tempo in the second period, each generating more offence. Taraschuk was forced to make a handful of tricky saves, while Owen was sharp with five saves in the second. 

Alberta had a couple more chances to add to their lead in the third, most notably an open net for Hannah Olenyk, but her shot found the waiting pad of Taraschuk, who made 23 saves. 

Arguably the best chance for Manitoba came early in the third, but Erica Reider's point shot ricocheted off the post and sailed harmlessly into the corner. The Pandas defence, however, was sensational throughout the rest of the third, holding the Bisons to zero shots in the final frame. 

The two Canada West powerhouse programs will conclude their two-game set in Edmonton tomorrow, as the Pandas host the Bisons at 2:00 p.m. at Clare Drake Arena.