Edmonton, AB – Two third period goals from the defending CIS Champions from Alberta was the difference as the Golden Bears defeated the UBC Thunderbirds 3-1 in game one of the Canada West Quarter-Final.
Jordan Hickmott led the homeside with a pair of goals in front of a capacity crowd at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton, AB as Alberta takes a 1-0 series lead.
Despite being banged up, the Thunderbirds had a strong opening period keeping the top ranked Golden Bears in check. Eric Williams stopped all 12 shots he faced as the game remained scoreless through 20 minutes of action.
However, it didn’t long for Alberta to get on the board in the second period. Jordan Hickmott, the Canada West leading goal scorer during the regular season, was left wide open alone in the slot and he made no mistake beating Williams 1:48 into the frame to give the Golden Bears a 1-0 lead. Credit Rhett Rachinski on a great feed to Hickmott to set up the goal.
UBC would respond just over six minutes later. David Robinson took a drop pass from Nate Fleming and he snapped home his first goal of the post season to tie the game at 1-1 with 12:07 left in the second period.
Williams once again would stand strong in the Thunderbirds net the rest of the way making 12 saves in total through 40 minutes to keep it a 1-1 game.
In the third, the Golden Bears put on the pressure early. Brett Ferguson’s wrap around found the stick of Stephane Legault standing alone at the side of the net and he beat Williams to put Alberta back in front 2-1.
UBC took nearly five minutes to get a shot on goal in the third period, but once they did they had their chances, including two power play opportunities. However, Kurtis Mucha would stonewall the Thunderbirds, stopping all 10 shots he faced in the period.
Hickmott added an empty netter to make it a 3-1 final.
“I thought both teams played a real hard game tonight and Eric Williams was great for us,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz. ” But we need more from everyone. The guys gave everything they had tonight but we made a few costly errors and they were able to capitalize.”
Neither team was able to capitalize on the man advantage. Both went 0-for-2.
Williams finished the night making 34 saves, while Mucha stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced.
Game two of the best-of-three series is set for tomorrow night at 6:00 pm PST at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton.
“We’ve been a resilient team all season after losses and we expect that same push back tomorrow with our season on the line,” said Kuntz.