Women's hockey swept by Pandas

Alberta Athletics
Alberta Athletics

EDMONTON - The Alberta Pandas (6-2-2-2) completed their weekend sweep of the Saskatchewan Huskies (7-4-0-1) with a 3-1 win at the Clare Drake Arena, a similar score to Friday night.

Pandas Goaltender Kirsten Chamberlain made 32 saves to seal the deal, including many in late flurry with the Huskies net empty. Hannah Oleynyk, Autumn MacDougall and Deanna Morin tallied for Alberta, while Emily Upgang scored for the visitors.

While the score was identical to Friday's result, Saturday's game featured a more aggressive Saskatchewan attack, who dominated in the shot department for most of the game (33-19 overall).

It was a Pandas shot however, at the 9:31 mark of the opening period that opened the scoring on the powerplay. MacDougall deflected an Abby Benning wrist shot in the slot underneath the blocker of Huskies Goaltender Jessica Vance to break the deadlock.

Olenyk had a chance a few moments later on the side of the net, but Vance came up big for one of her five saves in the opening frame. The Huskies were buzzing late in the period while 5-on-3, and had a few opportunities when Chamberlain lost her stick and her blocker as play continued. However Chamberlin was more than up to the task, keeping the Pandas 1-0 lead intact. 

The Huskies pounced on the Pandas early in the second, as Upgang buried a wrist shot from the slot under the blocker of the Alberta second-year netminder. The Pandas appeared to strike back moments later, as a puck shot out to Kennedy Ganser in the slot with Amy Boucher laying in the crease. The goal was waved off for goalie interference. 

But at 13:08, Morin restored the Pandas one-goal lead, by storming down the left wing and made a beautiful backhand/forehand deke to slide the puck around the pad of Vance to make it 2-1.

The stats didn't favor the Saskatchewan Huskies to start the 3rd period, who were 0-5 in 2017-18 when trailing after 40. In an effort to change that, Captain Kaitlin Willoughby broke towards the net forcing Chamberlain to make a sharp save as the ice was still fresh. Willoughby, the team's leading scorer was held off of the score sheet in both Friday and Saturday's contests.

The pace of the game had a playoff like atmosphere, with end to end rushes and great chances at both ends. Alberta's shot blocking seemed to frustrate the Huskies offensive attack, despite piling up their season average for shots on the day (33). Olenyk and Ganser took over the game in the third, and put the game out of reach on a beautiful passing play at 11:09. Boucher fed Ganser behind the net, who immediately rifled it out front to the Cochrane, Alberta native Olenyk, who made no mistake burying her third of the year.

Saskatchewan Coach Steve Kook pulled his goalie with 2:34 left on the clock, but were not able to find success against the Pandas Sophomore Goalie.

The pair of 3-1 wins were the first time in 18 contests between the two teams that the final score was more than a one-goal margin for two-consecutive games (2012-13 season, 4-1, 2-0 Alberta wins).

Alberta now leap frogs Saskatchewan in the standings in to second place in the Canada West, while the Huskies fall to 3rd place. The Huskies welcome the Mount Royal Cougars next weekend, while Alberta travels to Vancouver to battle the UBC Thunderbirds.