Anthony Simone, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY - Mount Royal University Cougars earned its first victory of 2018 in a defensive battle versus The University of Regina Cougars 1-0 in the shootout Friday night at Flames Community Arenas. The Cougars came into their first game of the New Year motivated to turn around their season, as they currently sit last in the standings. That motivation didn't translate into success for MRU in the first period, as they failed to register their first shot on net until only 4 minutes remained in the opening frame. The University of Regina also got off to a slow start but was able to create some pressure late in the period. Regina went to the power play 3 times in the period, testing MRU's netminder Zoe De Beauville on multiple occasions, but De Beauville was up for the task, turning away all 7 Regina shots in the period. The best chance in the period for MRU came at 18:94 when third-year forward Talia Terry tried to go five-hole on Regina's goalie Jane Kish but was turned aside, taking the game into the first intermission tied a zero.
The defensive battle continued in the 2nd period, but the tempo of the game increased dramatically. Regina's best opportunity came within the first minute of the period, as third-year forward Jaycee Magwood's close range backhander trickled through the five-hole of De Beauville. The crowd gasped as they saw the puck just miss the back of the net and miss wide. MRU more than doubled its first period shot output firing multiple scoring opportunities at Kish, but the Regina goalie was able to stand tall and turn away all 9 shots she faced in the second frame. MRU nearly broke the scoreless tie with just 00:30 remaining in the period as the speedy second year forward Tianna Ko split the defence springing her on a partial breakaway but was unable to beat Kish's glove hand. Despite good chances on both ends, the game went into the final period gridlocked at zero.
A scoring chance came for MRU within the first minute of the 3rd period as assistant captain Rachel Pitz streaked down the ice on a breakaway, however unable to put it past Kish. University of Regina went to the power play late in the period as MRU's Victoria Byer went to the box for body checking. Regina sent a flurry of shots towards the net, creating scoring chance after scoring chance. De Beauville was immersive during the attack, turning away all 4 shots during reigns power play Fittingly, regulation would finish in a scoreless tie in this offensive struggle and the 2 teams headed to overtime.
Jane Kish saved the game for Regina in 4v4 overtime as she slid post to post to shut down Nicolette Seper on what seemed to be a wide-open net, sending the game into a 3v3 session. 3v3 overtime solved nothing and we headed to a shootout. Both goaltenders were once again strong in the shootout. It took until MRU's 5th shooter to score the only goal of the game as Tianna Ko finally put an end to what was a classic defensive battle as she deked out Jane Kish on her second attempt in the shootout, giving the Mount Royal Cougars the 1-0 victor Ko put on an impressive performance, creating multiple scoring opportunities and scoring the shootout winner. She credits hard work to the team's success.
"We just keep trusting the process. We trained hard in training camp in the couple weeks leading up to this game. I'm glad coach Scott gave me a second opportunity in the shootout. This game gave our team a lot of confidence as we try to push towards the playoffs."
The rematch between MRU and Regina will take place tomorrow afternoon at 3 P.M. at Flames Community Arenas.