The University of Alberta hockey team face off against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds this weekend. The Golden Bears will host the Thunderbirds at Clare Drake Arena. The Pandas will finish the first half of the 2017-2018 season on the road in Vancouver.
The Golden Bears last series brought then their first defeat in the Canada West Conference this season. The Golden Bears still boast an impressive 11-1-0 record.
The last series saw the Golden Bears travel to Saskatoon and take on the second place University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Golden Beards won on Friday night by the commanding score of 6-1. Fifth year player, Jamie Crooks, looked particularly impressive with a natural hattrick in Friday night’s game. The Golden Bears dominant performance makes it clear why they are at the top of the U Sports Top 10 rankings. Saturday night saw a different story unfold. The Huskies handed thee Golden Bears their first loss, a 4-0 defeat.
The Golden Bears will be looking to rebound against a struggling UBC team. The Thunderbirds 5-7-0 record puts them in sixth place in the Canada West Conference. Much like the Pronghorns, the Thunderbirds don’t threaten the Golden Bears statistically. The Thunderbirds’ victories have primarily come against the teams ranked below them in the standings – Lethbridge and Regina.
The Golden Bears would benefit most from a decisive sweep of the Thunderbirds – re-establishing their momentum an finishing the first half of the season on a high note. After the Thunderbirds, the Golden Bears will be facing teams they’ve already played one series against.
The Golden Bears will be looking to players like Luke Philip and Trevor Cox to continue producing. They’ll also look to standout freshman goaltender Zach Sawchenko to give them confidence from the crease out, but the Golden Bears will have to be careful not to get ahead of themselves and be tripped up by overconfidence.
The Pandas and Thunderbirds will face off in a match up of two closely ranked teams. As the Canada West Women’s Hockey standings continue to fluctuate, the Pandas find themselves in second in the Canada West Standings and the first in the U Sports Top 10 Rankings.
The Pandas are coming off a series sweep of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, The Huskies had previously swept the Thunderbirds. A sweep over such a strong team provides the Pandas with momentum going into the series.
The Pandas and Thunderbirds are evenly matched teams. While the Thunderbirds will rely on players like Logan Boyd and Mathea Fischer, both of whom have eight points this season; the Pandas will attempt to continue their successful scoring by committee approach. Deanna Morin, Autumn MacDougall, Cayle Dillon, and Taylor Kezama al have eight or more points.
The Pandas scoring depth may be a foctor in the coming series as UBC has looked less dominant than last season. The Pandas’ defence – lead by Captain Cayle Dillon – looked particularly strong against the Huskies. They limited shooting opportunities and created turnovers. If the defense is as strong on Friday and Saturday, the Thunderbirds will have a formidable obstacle to negotiate.
The coming series should be a showcase of high level women’ hockey. The last time these two teams met it was in the Canada West Conference Finals. The Thunderbirds won the series and the championship two games to one.
The Pandas will return to Clare Drake to host the Mount Royal Cougars on December 1st. The Golden Bears will host the Mount Royal Cougars on December 2nd.