(ISN) – Third-year forward Alannah Kedra scored two goals for the second day in a row, this time leading the No.6 University of Alberta Pandas’ hockey team to a 5-2 win, and a 2-0 series sweep, in game two of a best-of-three conference semi-final series against the No.8 Saskatchewan Huskies on Saturday afternoon at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton.
Kedra, originally from Abbotsford, BC, notched a pair of power-play goals against the Huskies, as well as an assist, to bring her weekend playoff total to four goals and five points in two games. Prior to this weekend, Kedra had never scored in a playoff game for Alberta. Team regular season scoring champ Sarah Hilworth and veteran defenseman Nicole Pratt each had a goal and an assist for Alberta, while Janelle Malcolm scored an empty net insurance marker.
Fifth-year goaltender Kaitlyn Chapman stopped 18 shots for the game two victory.
Saskatchewan received goals from fifth-years Kelsey Tulloch and Breanne George, while netminder Vanessa Frederick stopped 16 shots.
With the sweep of Saskatchewan, Alberta moves on to the Canada West championship series, to be played either in Calgary against the Dinos, or at home against Lethbridge next weekend. The Dinos lead their series with the Pronghorns 1-0, and game two goes Saturday evening in Calgary.
After dropping four of five games against Saskatchewan this season, including three in overtime or shootout, the Pandas outscored the Huskies 9-4 in opening round of the Canada West playoffs. Kedra, who finished with five goals and 11 points in 14 regular season contests this season, has been red hot for the Pandas of late. Saturday afternoon’s three-point effort was her fourth two-goal game in her last six games, and she now has 12 points over that span, including five points in the playoffs to lead the conference post-season scoring race.
She got the Pandas on the board first on Saturday, scoring at 7:54 of the first when she lifted a rebound over Frederick’s pad.
Three minutes later, the Pandas doubled their advantage when Hilworth redirected Kedra’s cross-ice pass into the Huskies’ goal. The first period two-goal outburst was a dramatic 180 degree difference from Friday’s game in which Alberta trailed 2-0 in the second, and 2-1 going into the third. In that game, the Pandas scored three straight in the third period to get the dramatic game one win.
“It was important for us to try and pick up where we left off on Friday, and the team did exactly that. It helped that we were moving our feet today and drawing some penalties which generated some momentum on which we were able to capitalize,” said Draper of his team’s hot start.
However, that start was quickly cooled off at the start of the second period when Tulloch rolled a backhander past Chapman just 34 seconds in, with the Huskies on the power-play. It was Tulloch’s first post-season goal after scoring four and eight points in the regular season. Julia Flinton and Cara Wooster drew the assists.
Pratt, who was easily the best player on the ice all weekend, restored Alberta’s lead at 6:22 of the second when she wheeled in from the blue line and roofed the puck short-side on Frederick as Alberta banked their second PP goal of the game.
“She is such a warrior, we really can’t ask for much more from her. I felt that she was the best player on the ice all weekend, and it’s fitting because she’s a fifth-year athlete with a lot of experience and she did exactly what she needed to do to help her team to a victory,” noted Draper of Pratt.
Kedra sent the Pandas into the third period with a 4-1 lead, but the Huskies clawed back to within two when George shelved a backhand shot from in tight over Chapman just 1:16 into the third.
From there, Saskatchewan, which was swept last season in the playoffs in Edmonton, applied furious pressure to the Pandas throughout the middle portion of the period. In fact, from 8:09 of the third to the 16:00 minute mark, the Huskies saw six minutes of power-play time, including a 5-on-3 for 39 seconds, but couldn’t beat Pandas’ shot blockers, nor Chapman in the Alberta goal. Pratt in particular shone during that stretch, muscling several Saskatchewan players off the puck and clearing it, or using her strong, confident skating to move the puck out of danger zones.
With Fenton in the box at 17:46, but the Huskies needing to score to stay alive, the visitors pulled Frederick for the extra attacker, only to see Malcolm slip away for a PP breakaway goal into vacated net.
“I did not want to go to a third game,” stated Howie Draper. “Saskatchewan is such a good team, to give them another opportunity to comeback would have been a huge mistake on our part, so it was good to see the girls battle hard, and really earn the win.”
Alberta, winners of a CIS record seven national championships, will now play in their 14th Canada West championship series. They are gunning for their 12th conference banner. As hosts of the CIS women’s hockey championship tournament, March 8-11, Alberta has an automatic berth, but to enter as conference champs means a higher seeding for the pool play portion.
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