Cougars win first ever U SPORTS playoff game to force game 3

Photograph by GetMyPhoto.ca
Photograph by GetMyPhoto.ca

SASKATOON – A complete team defensive effort from the University of Mount Royal Cougars allowed them to flip the script and force a third game in their Canada West quarter-final series with the Saskatchewan Huskies, thanks to a 3-0 win inside Merlis Belsher Place on February 16.
 
In sharp contrast to the night before, which saw Saskatchewan take the first game by a score of 5-0, the Cougars' defence was stifling, clogging up passing lanes in the neutral zone and snuffing out opportunities before they had the chance to develop.
 
 Anna Purschke, Breanna Trotter and Jayden Thorpe all scored for the Cougars who took full advantage of their opportunities to record the win despite being outshot 19-12 in the contest.
 
Zoe De Beauville had a tremendous bounce-back performance for Mount Royal, stopping every shot fired her way for the shutout.
 
After a choppy start to the proceedings, Mount Royal scored the first goal of the game with just over six minutes left in the first period.
 
Purschke gathered the puck in the neutral zone and streaked past a Huskies defender before firing the puck just underneath the crossbar for her team's first goal of the 2018-19 playoffs.
 
Purschke nearly doubled the Cougars lead later on in the frame when she deflected a shot from the point that came in off the stick of Daria O'Neill but the puck rolled just wide.
 
Despite outshooting the Cougars 8-2 in the opening frame, the Huskies found themselves trailing after the first period of play.
 
The home team had their first clear-cut chance on net just minutes into the second period when Kayla Kirwan went on a great individual rush and fed the puck in front of the net but Saskatchewan was unable to get a good shot off.
 
With five minutes left in the frame it was again the Huskies that were threatening, but De Beauville made her first of multiple strong saves on the night.
 
Chloe Smith and Abby Shirley broke in on a two-one one and Smith fired the puck high, but the third-year netminder stayed with the shooter and made the save.
 
Through two periods of play Saskatchewan held a 14-8 advantage in shots but still trailed on the scoreboard.
 
Mount Royal removed the chance of a Huskies comeback four minutes into the third when Tianna Ko found her way onto a loose puck behind the Saskatchewan net and fed it out in front to Trotter who made no mistake to one-time the puck into the back of the net.
 
Thorpe and the Cougars salted the game away when the rookie tipped a blast from the point off the stick of O'Neill past Jessica Vance.
 
The decisive third game of the series will get underway at 7:00 p.m. tomorrow night inside Merlis Belsher Place.