CALGARY – The No. 2 University of Calgary Dinos will have a chance to defend their national title as they booked their ticket to the Canada West final and the CIS championship tournament with a 3-1 triumph over the University of Alberta Pandas Sunday afternoon.
Calgary wins the best-of-three conference semi-final 2-1 and will host the upstart UBC Thunderbirds for the Canada West title next weekend. The T-Birds have been the most improved team in 2012-13 after collecting a mere two wins a year ago. UBC needed a third game in their semi-final series to knock off the Regina Cougars at the Saskatchewan capital. Both teams will also have a chance to compete for the CIS title in Toronto.
The series went back and forth between these two provincial rivals with the higher ranked and more rested team coming up on top. Game 1 will go down as a classic after Tanya Morgan netted the triple overtime winner to clinch a 3-2 Calgary victory. On Saturday night, Alberta showed perseverance as they came back from two deficits and eventually won 5-3 to force Sunday’s final showdown.
“Last night they outworked us, but tonight I think we were the ones who outworked them,” described Calgary head coach Danielle Goyette. “It was easier to work with a two-goal lead, but the score didn’t matter, we had a plan and we had to follow it.
“It is only the second time this team has got to go to nationals and we have some young players and even some fifth-years who going to nationals will be very special for in their last season,” mentioned Goyette. “When you have five or six players that won’t be returning, this weekend was very important to them.”
“It is quite an amazing feeling knowing we have a spot in nationals,” added fifth-year forward Elana Lovell, who scored twice for the Dinos. “It is something we are all very excited about, but we know we have to do all the little things to hopefully get the Canada West title again and go into nationals on a winning note.”
The Dinos jumped out to an early 1-0 lead at 3:08 of the first period on Sunday thanks to their fourth power play marker in two games. A quick shot from the blue line by first-year rear guard Kelsie Lang was deflected in as Elana Lovell got a piece of the puck as she beat Michala Jeffries.
Slowly taking over the game, Calgary doubled their advantage with another power play goal at 16:41 mark of the middle frame. A shot by Stephanie Ramsay didn’t hit the back of the net, but the rebound would as Jenna Smith notched her second of the post season.
After an even first half of the game, the Dinos took control and held a 19-11 shot advantage after 40 minutes.
Midway through the third, Calgary extended its lead to three with yet another tally on the man-advantage. Lovell recorded her second of the game on a good release as Lang and Stephanie Zvonkovic picked up assists on the play.
Just 40 seconds after Lovell’s second of the day, Kayla Lavallee scored her second of the series as she beat Amanda Tapp with a hard shot from atop the left face-off circle on the power play. The goal made it a tight game heading into the final half of the third period, but Alberta never came close to a second tally. Howie Draper pulled his goalie in the final minute, but the Pandas couldn’t beat Tapp.
The Calgary netminder finished the night with 16 saves while her counterpart Jeffries ended with 31 stops.
The Canada West Final will begin next weekend at the Father David Bauer Arena between Calgary and UBC. Game 1 and 2 will have 7 p.m. puck drops on March 1-2. If necessary, Game 3 will be played on Sunday, March 3 at 4 p.m.