In their first Canada West series since the start of December, both the Pandas and the Golden Bears emerged with a sweep of the University of Manitoba Bisons. An excellent start to 2019!
For the Pandas, they managed one regulation win and a second in double overtime. These two victories give the Pandas the season sweep of the reigning National Champions and ensure they’ll be taking part in the post season. Currently first in the Canada West standings, the Pandas are six points ahead of the Bisons (currently in second). While it’s too soon to know if the Pandas will end up with one of the coveted first round playoff byes, it is guaranteed that will be part of the Canada West playoffs. They’re the first team to clinch a spot. The Pandas were also ranked second in the U Sports Top 10.
The Golden Bears also picked up one regulation and one overtime win against the visiting Bisons. The Golden Bears win the season series against the Bisons, but don’t have a series sweep. Recent roster addition Tyler Soy did play in the first game of the series, but not the second. Like the Pandas, the Golden Bears have clinched a playoff spot for the Canada West playoffs. Unlike the Pandas, they currently sit in second place in the Canada West, one point behind the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Huskies were helpful enough to drop the second game of the weekend series against the Calgary Dinos allowing the Golden Bears to gain some ground.
This weekend the Pandas host the UBC Thunderbirds at Clare Drake Arena. The Thunderbirds sit in third currently, having split their last series against the Mount Royal Cougars. The Canada West Champions in 2015-2016 and 2016-2017, the Thunderbirds will be the highest ranked opponent left in the Pandas regular season. A strong series against the Thunderbirds will go a long way to helping to secure a first round playoff bye.
The Pandas offense in Manitoba last weekend was varied. In the four goals scored, only Autumn MacDougall and Alex Poznikoff finished with more than one point; they both ended the weekend with one goal and one assist. The variety of the Pandas offense has been a strength of the team this season. While there are three or four players who seem to score more often than the others, no one can be discounted.
The offensive contributions of defenders have also been significant. Their ability to both smother the offense of opposing teams and create offense for the Pandas has been delightful. Well, it’s delightful it you’re cheering for the Pandas. It also makes the Pandas a more difficult team to compete against because it’s not just the forwards opposing teams have to be careful of.
The Pandas won both games of their first series against the Thunderbirds and will be looking to complete the season sweep at home.
The Golden Bears will look to win the season series against the UBC Thunderbirds. There first series against UBC resulted in a series split at home for the Golden Bears. They’ll be looking for different results this time. Two decisive victories will allow the Golden Bears to stay in the hunt for the top spot in the Canada West conference… which is of some importance as the last three Canada Finals have been between the Golden Bears and Huskies.
The Golden Bears have won their last three games and are looking to build momentum going into the end of the season. The tail end of the Golden Bears season features several teams where the score line was impressively lopsided for the Golden Bears in the first series. The UBC Thunderbirds started the season strong, but have struggled to remain consistently. They’ve won only one of the last four Canada West Conference games. The Thunderbirds are looking for a strong rebound from their last two losses. With both teams looking to come away with two wins this weekend, it will certainly be an interesting series.
The Pandas play at Clare Drake Arena at 7:00pm on Friday night and 2:00pm on Saturday afternoon.