Canada West playoffs have arrived. At Clare Drake Arena, the women’s quarter-finals start at 7pm on Friday night as the University of Alberta Pandas and University of Regina Cougars clash.
The Pandas and Cougars met four times during the regular season. The Pandas picked up points in all four games and their only loss came in a shootout in the first game of the season series. However, there will no shootouts in this series.
In their last meetings, the Pandas defeated the Cougars by scores of 5-0 and 3-0. These dominant performances for the Pandas came as part of a six-game shutout streak and a seven-game winning streak which marked a strong second half by the Pandas.
The Pandas come into this series after splitting their last series of the regular season against the UBC Thunderbirds. The Cougars, on the other hand, swept the Mount Royal Cougars to finish the season on a high note. The Cougars will hope their positive momentum will continue into this series against the Pandas.
As a playoff series, the previous meetings between the Pandas and Cougars are in a different category. Now moving forward to the semi-finals of the playoffs is on the line, it is expected that both teams will compete at another level. This series will definitely have a different feeling to it, and the change in the overtime format adds a slightly different complexion to the series.
The Pandas offense is statistically stronger than the Cougars. The Pandas have benefitted from having the top two scorers in the Canada West Conference – Autumn MacDougall and Alex Poznikoff. The Pandas have also had strong defense and timely defensive scoring from their blue line. Captain Cayle Dillon leads the Pandas defense in points. Goaltenders Danya Owen and Kristen Chamberlain have also had strong performances – including their shutout streak.
The Cougars have their own offensive threats in Emma Waldenberger and Jaycee Magwood. They finished 6th and 16th in the Canada West scoring race. The Cougars have also relied on goaltender Jane Kish who has started 17 games in the regular season. Kish has a 0.932 save percentage and 1.76 goals against average. The Pandas will want to put a lot of shots on Kish and hope to capitalize early in the game. In the first series between these two teams, Kish was very strong backstopping her team to a shootout victory.
The series promises to be interesting and high energy. The Golden Bears will return to action in their own semi-final at Clare Drake against a yet to be determined opponent next weekend.