Both the Pandas and the Golden Bears are in action at Clare Drake this weekend. The Pandas will start the weekend’s action at 7pm on Friday night; they host the University of Calgary Dinos in a home and home series. The Golden Bears will finish their own home and home series against the Dinos at Clare Drake at 5pm on Saturday night.
Last weekend, the Pandas travelled to Winnipeg to face the University of Manitoba Bisons. The Pandas return home having split the series. A 4-3 win on Friday night was followed by a 4-2 loss on Saturday. Despite Saturday night’s result, several players had strong performances. Amy Boucher had a three-goal weekend, Taylor Kezama recorded three assists, and Cayle Dillion had a multi-point game on Friday night. The Pandas played well against a difficult opponent.
Looking to earn their first win at home, the Pandas will face their traditional Battle of Alberta opponent. The Dinos just finished a series against the UBC Thunderbirds, losing both games. With both teams looking to add points this weekend it will be an interesting match up.
The Dinos have been one of the weaker Canada West teams over the last two years. They currently sit in seventh while the Pandas are in third. However, both Dinos goalies currently rank in the Canada West top five in goals against average. To beat either Murray or Roberts, the Pandas will have to be at the top of their game. Traditionally icing a very deep team, the Pandas can generally score no matter who is on the ice.
The Pandas will try to capitalize on their speed and ability to control thee play along thee boards. Their quick style of play and habit of applying substantial pressure to opposition defense should match up well against the Dinos. Two victories over the coming weekend would be a boost in momentum for a team which hasn’t closed out a sweep yet this season.
After sweeping the University of Manitoba Bisons, the Golden Bears take their perfect record on the road. They face the University of Calgary Dinos in their biggest test yet this season. Having one overtime loss and three wins, the Dinos will be a difficult team for the Bears to beat.
The Bears looked a little bit vulnerable early in Friday night’s game as they looked to solve the Bisons. They rebounded for a strong third period and a 5-2 victory. Manitoba started Saturday’s game in much the same way they had started Friday’s – skating well and playing a positionally strong game. When Alberta gained control of the game, near the start of the second period, they never looked back, winning 4-1.
The Dinos are fresh from two commanding wins over the UBC Thunderbirds. The statistics for both teams are similar; however, the Dinos have a more effective powerplay. To counter that, the Golden Bears have the best penalty kill in the Canada West. Both teams have allowed only four goals this season while scoring considerably more. This series could be either low or high scoring.
If the Bears can avoid too many trips to the penalty box it would be the most effective way to limit the Dinos power play success. The Dinos also have to avoid the penalty box as the teams have similar penalty minutes and the Golden Bears power play is still fairly effective. The Dinos and Bears are among the early contenders for top spot in the Canada West standings. This weekend’s series will help to determine who is the early favourite.
After this weekend, the Bears will travel to Regina to play the Cougars; the Pandas will welcome Regina, who have gotten off to strong start, to Clare Drake.