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Golden Bears Look to Close Out Year Strong

The University of Alberta Golden Bears End Their 2015 Schedule In A Clash With The Pronghorns

The University of Alberta Golden Bears look to close out their 2015 schedule by sweeping the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns when they play at Clare Drake this weekend. The home games signify the start of the Bears playing opponents they have seen previously this season;  the Bears opened their season on the road against the Pronghorns in Lethbridge and will now host the Pronghorns for two games to end 2015.

The Bears are coming into this series after sweeping the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver last weekend.  These results against the Thunderbirds have seen them climb to second place in the Canada West standings and have improved their national ranking from fourth to third.

The Bears' games against the Thunderbirds were high scoring affairs. Friday night's game finished with a score of 5-2 in favour of the Bears, and Saturday night's game ended up being a back-and-forth affair with a final score of 8-5.

The Bears started strong on Friday night, getting goals from Bredo and Koper by the ten minute mark of the first period. The Thunderbirds were able to answer with a goal at 3:41 of the second period (from Bardaro) but found themselves two goals behind again at 14:21 when Koper scored his second of the game. Kieser increased the Bears lead at 14:22 of the third period, but with a goal from Vettrel, the Thunderbirds were back within two. Levko Koper added an empty net goal at 18:49, completing his first hat trick of the year and assuring the Bears of a victory. The Bears penalty kill was 4/4 on Friday night, but the power play was also 0/3 as neither team was able to capitalize when they had the man advantage.

Saturday night's rematch can most definitely not be characterized as a battle between goaltenders. At the end of the first period, both teams had one goal. The Bears goal came from Legault and the Thunderbirds from Antilla. Both were power play goals, and the Bears found themselves trailing for the first time during the series after Antilla opened the scoring. The real disparity in the first period, however, was found in shots. The Bears outshot the Thunderbirds 14-1 despite the level score.

The Bears started the second period strong with a power play goal from Hart in the first minute, but the Thunderbirds answered with two quick goals fro  Robinson and Lockhart. Reddick evened the score on the power play just over a minute later with Ferguson adding another goal at 5:47. In the three minute stretch from 2:47 to 5:47 of the second period, each team scored two goals. Manning added a fourth goal for the Thunderbirds at 8:15, and Hickmott regained the lead for the Bears at 12:24. The period from Hickmott's goal until the end of the second period remained goalless, making it the longest stretch during the second period without either team scoring.

The third period started with goals from Reddick and Crooks within the first five minutes, allowing the Bears to establish a more comfortable lead for the first time during the game. Kieser added an insurance marker at 14:58, but as happened multiple times during this game, the Thunderbirds' Hayer scored less than a minute later.  From that point, no one else managed a goal, allowing for a 8-5 final score.

The Bears special teams were a complete reversal of the night before. They scored three goals on five power plays but allowed two on six. Perhaps more worrisome for the Bears was the fact that Luke Siemens allowed five goals on only twenty shots. Siemens' .915 save percentage seems to indicate nothing more than an off night, but the Bears backstop has been struggling a bit over the course of the season.  Siemens has had inconsistent games where, despite being able to make several difficult saves, the goals which have been scored should have been more routine saves. The Bears will need to be able to shut down the offenses of teams like Saskatchewan and UBC if they wish to win the Canada West conference.

The Bears have a chance to add more wins to their 10-4 record this weekend when they host the Pronghorns. The season opening series saw the Bears struggle with the Pronghorns, winning the first game 2-0 after two third period goals and losing the second game 3-2 in double overtime. The Pronghorns currently sit fifth in the Canada West Conference with a 6-7-1 record, just having been swept by Regina in a similarly high scoring affair. The upcoming series with the Bears doesn't look to provide any relief to the Pronghorns' goalies as the Bears 54 goals is good for second most goals in the nation. Lethbridge currently sits in a two way tie for least effective penalty kill nationally, at just 66.7%. Much like when the Bears played the Manitoba Bison, this ineffective penalty kill does not contrast well against the Bears power play conversion rate of 28.0%, which is ranked fourth nationally and is first in Canada West. Unfortunately for the Bears, they also can't afford to rely on their power play. Lethbridge has accumulated only 98 PIMs, good for second last in the country over the course of the season. The Bears power play will have to take advantage of the limited chances they are presented.

University of Alberta Golden Bears

University of Manitoba Bison

CIS Ranking


Not Ranked

Record (Rank)

10-4-0 (3rd)

6-7-1 (5th)

Goals For/Goals Against (Rank)

54/29   (1st)

46/52 (4th)

Power Play (Rank)

14/50 - 38% (1st)

10/56  - 18% (6th)

Penalty Kill (Rank)

46/52 - 89% (1st)

26/39 - 67% (8rd)




Leading Scorer (G-A-PTS)

Jordan Hickmott (7-13-20)

Brandon Clowes (5-9-14)

The Bears offense has more depth than the Pronghorns. The Pronghorns have only one player in the national top 50 (Clowes), and his ranking is part of a six way tie for the 44th position.  The Bears, however, have two (Hickmott and Koper) both with higher rankings. Beyond that, the Pronghorns have only two players (Clowes and Maxwell) in the Canada West top fifteen for points while the Bears have five (Hickmott, Koper, Reddick, Ferguson, and Legault).

The Bears will need a bounce back performance from starting goalie Siemens and to avoid taking penalties (something with which they have struggled recently) if they want to sweep the Pronghorns and end 2015 on a high note.