HUSKIES FORCE GAME 32013-02-16
By Jason Hills
The University of Alberta Pandas’ hockey team picked the wrong time for their special teams to go cold as they dropped a 3-1 decision on Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena in game two of their quarterfinal series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
With the win, Saskatchewan ties the best-of-three series at 1-1 and forces a game three, to be played on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.
The Pandas gave up three power play goals and their own power play came up empty on six opportunities as the Huskies earned their first ever playoff win at Clare Drake Arena, and their first post-season win in six years.
The Huskies were led by rookie goaltender Cassidy Hendricks who made 27 saves in the win and forwards Sara Greschner, Danny Stone and d-man Julia Flinton talied Saskatchewan’s markers while fourth-year forward Montanna Noyes replied with the only marker for the Pandas. Michala Jeffries made 15 saves in the loss.
“I’m not one to keep track of wins and losses in playoffs. When you lose you’re out, but to come into this building that has so much history and finally get our first playoff win here. It feels real sweet,” said Huskies head coach Steve Kook.
“We’ve had lots of chances this year on the power play and our overall percentage (12.2%) hasn’t been great, we’ve just talked about getting those timely power play goals, and we certainly did that tonight."
After a gutsy Game one win in overtime, Pandas head coach Howie Draper praised his penalty kill units and knew the key to success in Game two would be to stay out of the box, but the Huskies power play, which has scored four of their five goals, and is flying at a 30.2% clip in the series proved to be too potent on Saturday.
“They changed a few things up on the power play and we didn’t adjust and to be quite honest we didn’t do a good enough job getting in the shooting lanes tonight,” said Draper. “Our power play, which has been good all year, had lots of opportunities to get us back into the game, but we picked a bad time to get cold.”
Greschner opened the scoring just 4:14 into the contest when she pounced on a rebound and scored on a wrap-around. The Pandas were able to tie the game at 1-1 late in the opening frame when Noyes converted on a rebound on an odd-man rush, but after giving Saskatchewan three power plays in the first period, Stone scored the eventual game-winner midway through the second with Pandas defenceman Rianna Magee serving a double-minor.
Stone, a fifth-year veteran has three goals in the series.
Saskatchewan added a late power play marker when Flinton’s shot from the point was redirected, giving the Huskies a two-goal cushion.
“We always talk about playing a simple game in the last two minutes of a period and we took a bad penalty late in the second and that put them back in the driver’s seat,” said Draper. “If we killed it off, it could’ve given us a lift heading into the third period, but we didn’t.”
Alberta outshot Saskatchewan 8-2 in the final frame, and generated some great scoring chances, but Hendricks came up with her strongest period of the game in the third, robbing Game one hero and first-year forward Jessica Kampjes on a one-timer from the slot and then later came across to stack the pads on fifth-year forward Meg Omand.
Despite the chances, the Pandas didn’t have a lot of urgency in their game.
“We weren’t hungry enough on the puck,” said Draper. “We battled, but not hard enough. I felt we were at about 75-80% to hold territorial advantage, but I don’t think we played as well as we can to create better chances and that will be our challenge tomorrow.”
Game 3 of the quarter-final series is Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. at Clare Drake Arena. The winner of the series will face the Calgary Dinos next weekend in the Canada West semi-final.