Matthew Pohl, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE, Alta – Two goals in the penultimate minute of regulation, a disallowed goal in overtime, and a number of great chances from both sides in nearly two full overtime periods were capped off by a goal from Tricia Van Vaerenbergh on Friday night, as the Lethbridge Pronghorns pulled out a come-from-behind 4-3 win over the Calgary Dinos in game one of a home-and-home weekend series.
Alicia Anderson came home with the win, stopping 40 of 43 shots she faced, as her Pronghorns pull to within five points of the sixth-placed Mount Royal Cougars for the final playoff spot with a 5-11-1-0 record. Calgary's single-point result gives them a record of 2-14-0-1, following the 39-save outing from starting goaltender Kelsey Roberts.
The Dinos came out firing early, with two quality shots on Anderson just shy of the 1:20 mark of the period. Anderson would deny the Dinos of a low glove-side chance that rebounded to the slot, and would come across to make a sprawling pad save on the ensuing wrist shot.
Lethbridge would soon get a few chances of their own in the Dinos end, keeping possession of the puck to get three good shots on the Roberts-guarded net. The Pronghorns would begin to gain momentum on the rush, regaining some of the puck possession they lost in the early going.
Momentum would continue to swing in favour of the Pronghorns, who would hem Calgary in their zone thanks to a solid forecheck and poor puck control from the Dinos as they would be unable to clear the puck.
Period one would finish in the Lethbridge zone, with Anderson making a couple of good saves on point-blank chances, including a quick shot on goal right off the faceoff with 3 seconds left. The score remained tied at zero, and the Dinos would have a 14-8 advantage on the shots-on-goal counter.
The second frame would start out well for the Pronghorns, who would get an early chance on Roberts, but Pronghorns' Forward Tricia Van Vaerenbergh would take a tripping penalty inside the opening minute. Lethbridge would kill of the penalty, allowing only one Calgary shot on net.
The Dinos would send one of their own to the penalty box four minutes into the frame, when Laine Grace tripped up a Lethbridge player along the half-boards in their own zone. Lethbridge was held to just one shot on net on their man-advantage.
Calgary would gain the momentum after the Grace penalty, keeping the Lethbridge team in their zone for a bulk of the next few minutes. The Pronghorns would struggle to get the puck into the Dinos zone, as the visiting team's Defence would halt them at the Calgary blue line.
Lethbridge's inability to generate any offensive-zone time would ultimately cost them. Delaney Frey would score top-shelf on the far-side of Anderson's net, directly off of a faceoff win by Chelsea Court on Anderson's left. Frey's 2nd of the season put the Dinos up 1-0.
Shortly after that, Lethbridge's Katelyn Breitkreuz would take a body checking penalty in the offensive zone. With just over 40 seconds remaining in the penalty, Carley Wlad would capitalize on a rebound chance taken by Dana Wood that took an awkward bounce off the crossbar behind Anderson and the glass behind the net.
Wlad's second goal of the season gives the Dinos a two goal lead, and that's how it would sit heading into the second intermission. Shots on goal were 26-17 in favour of the Dinos.
Coming out of the dressing room, the Pronghorns were firing on all cylinders in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Off of a Dinos turnover in the neutral zone, Meg Dyer bounces the puck off the far boards to Breitkreuz, who would snipe it top-shelf above the blocker of Roberts, for her first goal of the season.
Shortly after Breitkreuz's goal, the Dinos would have a quick response, as Rachel Paul carries the puck from in front of her own net into the Lethbridge zone, zig-zagging around the Lethbridge defenders before sending her backhand shot high glove-side on Anderson to cap off a remarkable solo effort. Paul's fourth of the season restored the Dinos two-goal advantage with thirteen-and-a-half minutes remaining in the final frame.
However, with time winding down and a scramble in front of the Calgary net led to a chance by the Pronghorns to cut the Dinos lead in half, and they would capitalize. Jodi Gentile would find a loose puck inside the crease, and she would tuck it into the empty net as Roberts was spread-eagle to her right-side.
Immediately following the goal, Coach Michelle Janus opted to use her time-out to regroup her players, and it clearly worked. Twenty-two seconds after the 'Horns second goal, with Anderson's net empty, Jordan Doram would find herself alone in front of Roberts with the puck on her stick, and she would fire it five-hole to tie the game up with 1:11 remaining in the third period.
A late momentum shift by Lethbridge brought the shots-on-goal much closer, as the Dinos held a 35-31 advantage on the shot clock at the end of regulation.
The first overtime period featured some fast-paced four-on-four action, highlighted by back-and-forth play by both teams. Goaltending would prove to be valuable to both sides, as both Anderson and Roberts made exceptional saves to keep their respective teams in the game a little while longer.
Three-on-three would prove to be even more fast-paced, as both sides would have ample opportunity to find the back of the net. Roberts would come up clutch with a quick glove save on a screened wrist-shot in the first minute, and not long after Anderson would keep the puck off the goal line as the Dinos get in tight to the net.
Lethbridge thought they had netted the game winner as Van Vaerenbergh tried to put in a rebounded Breitkreuz shot off of Roberts' blocker. However, the goal was waved off as Van Vaerenbergh's crashing of the net caused it to come off its moorings just before the puck had crossed the line.
Van Vaerenbergh would get redemption for her disallowed goal, as she would net the game-winning goal with 35 seconds left in the second overtime period, giving the Pronghorns the come from behind win with a score of four to three.
The Pronghorns faces off in Calgary on Saturday against the Dinos for the second game of a home-and-home series, puck drops at Father David Bauer at 6:00 p.m.
Photo by: MPP Photography