Alberta’s persistency on the cycle pays off

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By Marcus Miller 

October 18, 2013, Edmonton (ISN) – On a night where the University of Alberta Pandas hockey team limited the Saskatchewan Huskies to just 13 shots, Jayden Skoye’s third-period power-play marker stood up as the winner in a 3-1 victory for the Evergreen and Gold, Friday at Clare Drake arena.

With the goal, Skoye, a fifth-year veteran forward who hails from St. Albert, Alta., ties the team lead in points and goals scored. Netminder and Saskatchewan native Michala Jeffries made 12 stops in the win, Alberta improving to 4-1 on the season.

Cassidy Hendricks, a second-year starter out of Vancouver, put in a stellar performance with 25 stops, while Cami Wooster’s third goal was Saskatchewan’s lone tally on the night. With the loss, the Huskies’ record falls to 3-2

Though the teams traded a few chances early, including one early series that forced Jeffries to make a goal-line desperation stop on Brooke Patron to keep the game scoreless, Alberta’s persistency on the cycle would pay off. With just over a minute to play in the period, Lindsay Cunningham dug the puck out of the corner and fed blue-liner Natasha Steblin, who wristed a puck past Hendricks to give the Pandas a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Alberta maintained the pressure in the second frame. Noticeably speedy on the wing, the Pandas repeatedly gained the zone with ease, often stickhandling to the middle of the ice to get off a number of solid scoring chances, Hendricks turning them all away. Saskatchewan’s solid goaltending throughout the period was a difference-maker, as a bizarre Panda turnover in their own zone gifted the puck to Husky captain Cami Wooster, who had plenty of time and space to blast a slap shot over Jeffries’ shoulder. Despite the shots favouring the Panadas 22-9 after two, the prairie rivals were knotted at one.

Early in the third, Alberta’s speed and forecheck continued to keep Saskatchewan on their heels with three straight power-plays for the home side, the second of which set the stage for the game-winner. With Alyssa Dobler off for interference, Skoye scooped up the puck in tight and backhanded a tally past Hendricks, the Pandas taking a 2-1 lead with 15 minutes to play and breaking Saskatchewan’s perfect penalty kill on the season after 15 straight successes.

The Huskies thought they tied it with less than nine minutes remaining after another Panda giveaway in their own zone resulted in a cross-crease feed to rookie forward Kaitlin Willoughby, who swatted the puck into a dislodged Alberta net. Saskatchewan struggled to mount a comeback following the disallowed goal, managing just two shots the rest of the way.

Alberta’s Lindsey Cunningham capped the game with an empty-net tally, her first on the season, with just one second remaining.

The Huskies could not convert on their lone man-advantage in the game while the Pandas went 1-4.

Saskatchewan will try to even the season series Saturday night as they return to Clare Drake to face Alberta; puck drops at 6 p.m. MT.

Game Stats: http://www.leaguestat.com/canadawest/women/en/stats/game-summary.php?game_id=1686 

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