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Who Let the Dogs In?

U of a Hockey takes on the Saskatchewan Huskies

After an emotional ceremony honouring Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Clare Drake last weekend, hockey returns to the Clare Drake Arena on Friday night. The Pandas take on the first place University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Golden Bears are on the road; they face the Huskies in Saskatoon.

An eventful weekend in Canada West women’s hockey saw the Pandas split their series with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. The Pandas 4-2-2-2 record puts them in fourth place in Canada West conference. Despite a less than ideal weekend of results, the Pandas reclaimed the top spot in the U Sports Top 10 Rankings,

The Pronghorns surprised the Pandas Friday night. Jumping to a 3-0 lead, the Pronghorns held on for a 3-1 victory. With 43 shots directed at Alicia Anderson, the Pandas pressed the Pronghorns. The Pronghorns goalie was up to the task of preventing a Pandas comeback. Anderson has been incredibly solid for the Pronghorns and this continued Saturday. The Pandas outshot the Pronghorns 50 to 15 – a dominate performance by the Pandas. Unable to determine a winner in regulation, the game went to overtime. Pandas Captain Cayle Dillon scored to give the Pandas the overtime victory.

The Pandas next opponent is the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Huskies have a 7-2-0-1 record. Sweeping the UBC Thunderbirds in their last series, the Huskies come into this series with momentum. The Pandas need to be at their best if they are to take all six points. The Pandas have played well against top ranked teams this season. Their struggles against lover ranked teams are the primary reason they’re in fourth.

Saskatchewan is a solid team. Goaltender Chloe Marshall has a 0.937 save percentage and 1.41 goals against average. In front of Marshall is Kaitlin Willoughby who has eight points; she is currently tied with Taylor Kezama for third place in the Canada West scoring race. Supporting Willoughby are Emily Upgang and Bailee Bourassa who have seven and six points respectively.

The Pandas will rely on Taylor Kezama, Autumn MacDougall, and Deanna Morin to provide offense and play a strong two-way game. As mentioned Kezama has eight points and both MacDougall and Morin have seven. The Pandas match up well against the Huskies making this weekend’s games an exciting clash. The Pandas will be looking to remind the Canada West Conference they are the defending National Champions; defeating the Huskies is a perfect way to do that.

The Golden Bears extended their Canada West unbeaten streak to 10 games. They also held on to the top spot in the U Sports Top Ten Rankings. Last weekend, the Golden Bears hosted a ceremony honouring former coach and hockey revolutionary Clare Drake. They also soundly defeated the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns by scores of 7-2 and 6-1. The Golden Bears weren’t particularly troubled by the Pronghorns though the Pronghorns did manage several strong plays to keep the scores from becoming even more lopsided.

The Golden Bears spent an extensive amount of time in the Pronghorns zone, had strong net front presence, and cycled the puck excellently. When they needed to play defensively they did; both teams had active sticks. For the most part, the Golden Bears were able to stifle the Pronghorns offense. Luke Philip had an impressive series netting a hattrick on Friday night. Goaltender Zach Sawchenko was also very good for the Golden Bears over the course of the series.

The Golden Bears can expect a different type of series against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Huskies sit in second place in the Canada West Conference with a record of 8-2-0. To defeat the Huskies, the Golden Bears will have to continue to do all the things they did against the Pronghorns and play a more disciplined game. The Golden Bears took 64 minutes of penalties over the series – too many if they hope to succeed against a top team like the Huskies. The Huskies will be looking to take of advantage of flaring tempers.

The series against the Huskies looks to be a fast paced and highly skilled affair which will start to sort out who will be first in the Canada West Conference come season’s end.

The Golden Bears will be back in action on November 24th and 25th against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at Clare Drake Arena. The Pandas will travel to Vancouver to tangle with UBC.