The University of Alberta Hockey teams -- Pandas and Golden Bears – will play their final series of the 2018-2019 regular season this coming week. The series will be a home and home affair against the University of Calgary Dinos.
Last weekend the Pandas regained first place and secured themselves a first round bye with a pair of impressive victories over the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. The series sweep gave the Pandas the season sweep of the Pronghorns (season sweep remains one of my favourite phrases) and propelled them past the University of Manitoba Bisons. The Pandas are now three points ahead of the Bisons and play the last place Dinos in their final home and home series.
The last series saw the Pandas offensive duo of MacDougall and Poznikoff continue to separate themselves in the Canada West scoring race. Poznikoff picked up six points and MacDougall 4 to create an eight point gap between second and third in the Canada West scoring race.
However, the scoring race won’t be the focus when the Pandas host the Dinos on Friday night. The Pandas will honour their graduating class of three players – Amy Boucher, Hannah Olynek, and Taylor Kezama. All three players were part of the 2016- 2017 U Sports National Championship team.
Amy Boucher has played 81 regular season games to date and 10 more in the playoffs for the Pandas over three seasons. She has 47 points including 31 goals. Hannah Olynek has spent the last five seasons as a Panda. She has played 131 regular season games for the Pandas an 18 post season games. She has 66 points including 26 goals. Olynek was also part of 2014-2015 Pandas Hockey team which won the Canada West Conference. Finally, there is Taylor Kezama. Kezama has played three seasons with the Pandas. She has suited up for 76 regular season games and an additional 10 playoff games. She scored 28 points including 4 goals in Canada West play. However, arguably Kezama’s most impactful goal came in her rookie season when she score the game winning goal in double overtime to lift the Pandas to their record breaking eighth National Championship.
The Golden Bears will host a formidable Dinos team as they hope to maintain their momentum going into the playoffs. The Golden Bears has a successful series against the Pronghorns with 6-0 and 9-5 victories. Much like the Pandas, they completed a definitive season sweep of the Pronghorns. However, the Golden Bears still trail the University of Saskatchewan Huskies by one point for first place in the Canada West Conference. They do hold first place the U Sports Top 10 rankings though. Interestingly enough, the Dinos have a fifth place U Sports Top 10 rank. This should make for an interesting series indeed.
The Bears are graduating a formidable class. The Golden Bears captain, Riley Kieser, is among the graduates. Kieser has plated 133 regular season games and 17 more playoffs games in the Canada West for the Golden Bears. Kieser has been Captain of the Golden Bears for the last two of his five seasons with the team and has won two National titles with the Golden Bears. He recorded 86 points including 30 goals.
Stephane Legault joined the Golden Bears in 2014-2015. Despite spending some of this last season injured, Legault has played 123 regular season and 17 playoff games for the Golden Bears in the Canada West Conference. He has 131 points and 35 goals. Tanner Clarkson graduates having played 49 regular season games and collected 9 points. He, like Kieser and Legualt, was part of the Golden Bears teams that won National Championships in 2015 and 2018. All three also collected Canada West Conference Championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018.
Finally, the Kenny Cameron who joined the Golden Bears from NAIT in the ACAC is moving on. Cameron has been with the Golden Bears as third goaltender for three years. He has played nine games for the Golden Bears. That includes three starts and three wins in this last season.
As the regular season wraps up, it’s an excellent opportunity to see some high quality hockey as both teams are set to honour their graduating players. The Pandas play Friday night at 7pm at Clare Drake and the Golden Bears play host on Saturday night at 7pm.