Pandas Luck Changes in OT

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By Jason Hills

February 16, 2013, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – The Alberta Pandas couldn’t have picked a better time for their luck to change in one-goal games this season.

During their regular season, all but one of the Pandas losses came by one-goal.

But that all changed in their playoff quarter-final opener Friday night at Clare Drake Arena as rookie forward Jessica Kampjes played the role of hero scoring with 1:04 remaining in the first overtime session to give the Pandas a 3-2 win and a 1-0 lead in their best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series.

Game two is Saturday at 6:00 pm in Clare Drake Arena.

“We needed this,” said Pandas bench boss Howie Draper. “Last weekend after losing to UBC in overtime and in a shootout, there was a little self doubt permeating on the bench, and I didn’t really feel that today. It felt like the team supported each other and that gave everyone confidence on the bench.”

Second-year forward Alison Campbell and fifth-year forward Karla Bourke tallied the other Alberta goals, while fifth-year Huskies forward Danny Stone scored both markers for Saskatchewan.

Stone’s second goal of the game came with just four seconds left to send the game into overtime. Down 2-1 heading into the third, the Huskies dominated the third period out-shooting Alberta 13-1 as the Pandas were forced to kill off three straight power plays in the second half of the third.

Alberta had two straight power plays midway through the overtime period, but were unable to score until Kampjes heroics.

Saskatchewan finished 1 for 7 on the power play, while Alberta finished 1 for 5.

“I felt like we had the majority of the momentum when it came to five-on-five. After they scored that goal, I just told the girls, lets get back to business and win this in the first 10 minutes,” said Draper. “This is playoffs and you need players to step up and we had a lot of girls come up big for us in different roles tonight.”

Pandas goaltender Michala Jeffries made 25 saves for her first career playoff win. The fourth-year netminder out-dueled Saskatchewan goaltender Cassidy Hendricks, who made 24 saves in the loss in what was a real goaltending battle.

The Pandas have missed the presence of their captain Sarah Hillworth, who has missed almost the entire season with a broken knee cap. There have been several times this year, where the team has lacked that timely goal.

The Pandas were led Friday night by a group of veterans like Bourke, and Meg Omand and Montanna Noyes who were excellent on the penalty kill.

And of course Kampjes, who led all Canada West rookies in scoring with that timely goal in OT.

The product of Sturgeon County and graduate of the St. Albert Slash program showed off her blazing speed and blew past a tired Huskies defenceman and let go a backhand that beat Hendricks on the short-side.

“This was a big team win for us,” said Kampjes. “It felt so rewarding, because we’ve been on the wrong end of a lot of these games this year. It was nice to start the playoffs on a good note and now we can just continue to build off of it.”

Stone’s late first period power play marker gave Saskatchewan their only lead of the game. Alberta struck twice just 37 seconds apart in the middle of the second to take the 2-1 lead into the dying seconds of the third before Stone’s tying goal.

Game Stats:

“We were tight and we didn’t want to make mistakes in the first two periods, we were lucky that our goaltender made some big saves for us to keep us in it and I thought we had a great response in the third,” said Huskies head coach Steve Kook. “We played with a lot more passion in the third and if we play like we did in that period we’ll have success tomorrow night.”