Pandas upset by Cougars in home-opener

Pandas upset by Cougars in home-opener

EDMONTON - For just the second time in program history, the Mount Royal Cougars defeated the Alberta Pandas hockey team, as they upset the Pandas in their home-opener 2-1 in a shootout, Saturday night at Clare Drake Arena. 

This is also the second-straight season the Cougars have beat the Pandas at Clare Drake Arena. The Cougars entered Saturday's game with a 1-25 all-time record against their provincial foe, and a 1-16 conference record against Alberta, including a 4-0 loss the previous night in Calgary.

Megan Carver scored the Cougars only goal in the third period, while Reanna Arnold and Tianna Ko scored for MRU in the shoootout.  Starting goalie Zoe De Beauville was impressive in her second start of the season, stopping 22 of 23 shots she faced, as well as three of the four Alberta shooters in the shootout. Fifth-year Deanna Morin scored for the second time in as many nights, with Alexandra Poznikoff scoring the only Pandas goal in the shootout. 

The Pandas were hoping for a better result on Saturday, as they raised their 2017 U SPORTS banner to the rafters of Clare Drake Arena before puck drop. The ceremony seemed to spark the Pandas, as they were able to control play in the opening 20 minutes, outshooting the Cougars 7-3, scoring 11 minutes in. Morin was able to tap in a fantastic feed from Amy Boucher in tight, giving the Pandas an early 1-0 lead. 

That momentum abandoned the Pandas in between periods, with the game coming to a glacial stop in the second. Neither team was able to generate any sort offensive opportunities, with the teams combining for just nine shots. 

The game picked up again in the third period, however, the Pandas were unable to add to their lead thanks to some timely saves from De Beauville. Similar to the only other MRU win over Alberta, the Cougars were able to score a need tally in the third, this time off a nice individual effort from Carver. The fourth-year Cougar forward created a turnover deep in Pandas territory, picking the pocket of the Panda defender, before slipping a shot on the ice past Panda starter Dayna Owen. 

Neither team could score the game-winner in regulation, sending the game into overtime. The Pandas easily had the best chances to end the game in both the first and second OT frame, but De Beauville was once again solid for Mount Royal. The veteran keeper stopped five Alberta shots in overtime, including a pair of stellar stops against Boucher and Poznikoff. 

The two teams exchanged goals over the first three shooters per side in the shootout, before Ko was able to win the game for MRU with a fantastic move to beat Owens in tight. 

The 1-0-1 Pandas will embark on their first road series next weekend, as they travel to Winnipeg to take on the Manitoba Bisons. MRU (1-1-0), meanwhile, will travel to Regina for a weekend series against the Cougars.