Dan Khavkin, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY- An emotional but vital season-concluding game for Mount Royal on home-ice saw host the Cougars sweep provincial rivals Lethbridge Pronghorns Saturday night 6-2 at the Flames Community Arena to end their season.
The sweep marks the best season MRU women's hockey has ever had since joining Canada West, concluding their campaign with the most wins and total points in the standings.
The win tonight also sends the Cougars east to Saskatoon and meet the Saskatchewan Huskies on the road next weekend in the first round of the playoffs. While the 'Horns, close their curtains on the 2018/2019 season and begin planning for next year.
"We're 2-2 against Saskatchewan this season and we think we match up well against them so it should be a good series," says MRU coach Scott Rivett
Rivett went on to comment on the team's regular-season finale saying, "We're excited. Our fifth-years led the way today and all season long. As a result, we broke a team record with our best finish to a regular season. We'll enjoy it for now but we still got work."
"Our best play this weekend came in the third period and we're glad it showed," he concluded.
An insane start to the game saw three goals in the opening 162 seconds for both teams before the offenses eased off at 2-2 to end the first period.
The frenzy of events saw the visiting 'Horns take the lead off a nifty effort from Katelyn Brietkreuz that saw her toe-dragging her way out of the corner of the boards and lifting the puck over the pad on Emma Pincott's far side, kickstarting a whirl of offence in the period just 1:57 into the game.
The Pronghorn lead only lasted 23 seconds as Cougar captain Shawni Rodeback finessed her point shot past a crowd of bodies and past Pronghorn goaltender Jessica Lohues, into the back of the net in her final regular season game on home-ice under an MRU sweater.
The Cougars honoured Rodeback, Pincott along with forward Megan Carver as the graduating class of 2019.
"It's bittersweet," Rodeback said. "It's been a great five seasons and we're all glad we finished the season the way we did but we still have a lot of work ahead of us."
"It was a complete team effort that brought this win today," she concluded.
Off the ensuing reset, the Cougars found the back of the net a mere 22 seconds after the game-tying goal from another senior contribution but Carver, who also tallied a goal in her final game on home-ice, ended the action-packed beginning to the game.
Lethbridge drew the game even at 2-2 on Ali Borrow's seventh goal of the season late in the frame at 13:39 to send both teams even at the first break.
Both teams flew out the gate once again to begin the second period but this time it was MRU who began the momentum swing thanks to Rodeback's second goal of the game early in the second period. She finished with three points on the night.
Up a player on the power play, the Cougars fought ferociously to keep the puck in the zone and were benefited after a series of passes ended up on the wheelhouse of the Cougar captain who found a gap for the second time past 'Horns goaltender Lohues.
Later on, the Cougars doubled their lead off a jam-job from rookie Morgan Ramsey who found the back of the net for the first time this season at 9:49 to give her MRU side a 4-2 cushion heading into the final break.
Insurance markers from Anna Purschke and Breanne Trotter in the second half of the final frame sealed the three points the Cougars needed to send them to Saskatchewan along with the best season in MRU women's hockey history.