The coming weekend is the beginning of the second half of the Canada West season. The Pandas and Golden Bears will host the Mount Royal Cougars in a home and home series for the second time. The Pandas will start their series at Clare Drake Arena on Friday night and the Golden Beards will return home to finish their series on Saturday night.
Returning home after splitting a series against the UBC Thunderbirds, the Pandas will be looking to win the season series against the Mount Royal Cougars. The Pandas series against the Thunderbirds was a competitive with both games going to overtime and both teams earning three points.
The Pandas currently sit tied for second place in the Canada West conference standings and first in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. The Mount Royal Cougars are last in the Canada West standings. Overall, the Pandas are a much stronger and deeper team than the Cougars, as shown by their results in a highly competitive Canada West this season. The Pandas have better statistics in goals for, goals against, and the power play. Mount Royal has the second-best penalty kill in the Canada West giving them one area where they outrank the Pandas. Despite this mismatch, the Cougars won these teams last meeting in a shootout.
This time, the Pandas will be looking to take advantage of a Cougars defense which has allowed 33 goals, the most in the Canada West. The Pandas will also be looking to out their scoring by committee philosophy into practice. With multiple players in the top 10 of the Canada West scoring race, the Pandas will be hoping they can add to those totals and take an early lead.
The Cougars will be hoping goaltender, Zoe De Beauville, has another strong game giving them an opportunity for another win. The Pandas will have to be aggressive and create consistent pressure to beat De Beauville who was a wall the last time they played. Recent series—especially against the Pronghorns – show the Pandas are more than capable of exerting punishing pressure against their opposition.
The Pandas will be looking for maximum points in this series to keep gain on the UBC Thunderbirds and the University of Manitoba Bisons – who will play each other.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears have a 13-1-0 record, are first in the Canada West Conference, and are first in the U Sports Top 10 rankings. The Golden Bars swept the UBC Thunderbirds last weekend. Dominant performances have been a hallmark of the Golden Bears 2017-2018 season and the series against the Thunderbirds was no different.
As the Golden Bears prepare to welcome the fifth place Mount Royal Cougars, they will be looking for another series sweep, giving them the season series sweep. As the Golden Bears have only lost to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the season sweep is a distinct possibility.
In their last series, the Golden Bears controlled both games almost from the first face off. While the Cougars managed some offense, it wasn’t comparable to the level the Golden Bears managed. The Golden Bears were also just starting the season and have only grown in confidence and cohesion since then.
The Golden Bears should do well against the Mount Royal Cougars. The Cougars will try to exploit any weakness the Golden Bears give them, but despite active sticks and good coverage in the first series, it is more likely to be the Golden Bears exploiting weaknesses. The series remains the Golden Bears’ to win or lose as the depth of the Golden Bears team becomes more and more apparent with each game.
This weekend is the last University of Alberta hockey of 2017. Canada West Conference action will resume on January 5th when the Pandas host the University of Manitoba Bisons.