Matthew B. Pohl, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE, AB — A strong performance by Alex Poznikoff on Saturday helped the University of Alberta Pandas take the full six points from the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns this weekend with a 5-1 win. Alberta's win puts them back at the top of the Canada West conference, while the Lethbridge loss keeps them in the seventh spot behind Mount Royal University.
Kirsten Chamberlin started in net for the Pandas, and she turned aside 13 of 14 shots taken by the Pronghorns. Lethbridge starter Alicia Anderson was chased from the net halfway through the third period, allowing four goals of 33 shots and two goals in 13 seconds. Jessica Lohues stopped 9 of 10 shots she faced in relief.
Alberta started off with excellent defending in the neutral zone to keep the Lethbridge side out of the Pandas end, limiting the Pronghorns to just one shot in the first seven minutes of play, to Alberta's four shots on Anderson.
Just past the halfway point of the first, Alberta managed to find the back of the net on a rush that left the Lethbridge defence scrambling. Autumn MacDougall got control of the puck behind Anderson and fed Jaslin Sawatzky for her second of the season.
A few power play chances for both teams in the second half of the second went unanswered, and the score-line after the first period saw the Pandas up 1-0 on the Pronghorns. Anderson stood tall in the period, facing 15 shots on net as opposed to the Pronghorns four chances against Chamberlin.
Lethbridge would start the second period short-handed for just over a minute, but Anderson and her defence core stood tall to kill off the Pandas chance. Thanks in part to the early power play, Alberta's control of the momentum would be strong, getting three consecutive shots off against Anderson.
However, the Pronghorns countered their momentum with a great chance in the Pandas zone. A slap-pass from Jodi Gentile to Delaney Duchek allowed Jordan Doram to get open mid-slot, and she would take the feed from Duchek and wrist it top-shelf above Chamberlin to tie the game at one.
The Pandas continued to hold the Pronghorns in their own zone throughout the rest of the period, but the home side did a much better job defending the conference-leading Pandas.
Inside the final five minutes of the frame, the Pandas pulled ahead once again. This time, Amy Boucher would score off a point-blank feed from Alex Poznikoff, tucking the puck underneath the right arm of a challenging Anderson.
Alberta's second goal would be the final marker of the period, as the visitors capture the lead heading into the second intermission. They outshot the Pronghorns 13-4 in the second frame.
A strong showing by Lethbridge to open the third period was negated five minutes in, as Tricia Van Vaerenbergh and Jodi Gentile were sent to the box about thirty seconds apart, giving the Pandas a lengthy five-on-three power play opportunity. A strong defensive effort by the penalty killers kept the Pandas at bay, holding them to just two shots on the Anderson-tended net.
Three seconds past the halfway point of the final frame, the Pandas began to surge ahead of the Pronghorns. While shorthanded, a turnover in the Lethbridge end saw MacDougall with the puck and Regan Wright on her left with only one defender to beat. MacDougal passed to Wright, and Wright buried the puck past a sliding Anderson to increase the Pandas lead to two.
Just 13-seconds later off a faceoff to the right of Anderson, the puck would make its way back to the netminder, but she was unable to cover the puck for another whistle. Poznikoff would skate to the front of the net and put the puck on her backhand to beat Anderson.
That goal would be the end of Anderson's night, as Jessica Lohues would come in to relieve the starter for the remainder of the game.
Lohues would not be immune to the third-period scoring surge from the Pandas with Poznikoff scoring once more for her side. That would be the final marker, as Alberta takes the full six points from the Pronghorns this weekend.
The final pair of regular season games takes place next weekend, with the Pronghorns taking on the Mount Royal University Cougars in a home-and-home series with a playoff spot on the line. The Pronghorns will host the first game Friday night at 7:00 p.m., while the back half of the series will go Saturday night in Calgary. Still battling for top spot in the conference with the Manitoba Bisons, the Pandas will also face a home-and-home series, taking on the Calgary Dinos.
Photo by: MPP Photography