(ISN) – NEW WESTMINSTER, BC – It’s been four years since the University of Alberta Pandas and University of Manitoba Bisons have met in the playoffs, but they’ll clash again when it matters most: the Canada West championship.
Game one of the best-of-three series gets underway Friday at 2 p.m. while Saturday and, if necessary, Sunday will also feature 2 p.m. start times at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton.The last time the teams met, in 2011, Manitoba swept Alberta 2-0 in Edmonton, but since then neither team has won the conference hardware, despite combining to win the previous 10 Canada West titles. Adding more intensity to the rivalry, only the victor this weekend will advance to the CIS championship taking place in Calgary next weekend. Alberta (19-1-7-1 in the regular season) faced their provincial rivals to the south, the Dinos, in the semi-final last weekend, edging out Calgary in game one by a 4-2 decision on the strength of team captain Tess Houston’s three-point effort, but game two was a roller-coaster for the hometown faithful.Twice, the Dinos scored late in a period to tie up the game at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton, knotting things up at 3-3 with 0.6 seconds left in the third period to potentially push the series all the way.Canada West All-Rookie Team selection Hannah Olenyk came through in the clutch, though, scoring 1:55 into overtime to end the series.The Bisons (14-5-7-2 in the regular season) are more than familiar with extra time this year, getting there seven times during the regular season before hitting overtime in three of their six playoff games in the earlier rounds.After a decisive 4-1 win in the opening game of their quarter-final series against Regina while at home, Manitoba followed with a double-overtime loss in game two and an extra-time victory in game three to advance to a semi-final against the UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver.Despite dropping the first game 2-1, the Bisons used overtime to extend the series with a 2-1 decision and finished the series with the same score in regulation of game three.Not surprisingly, Canada West Rookie of the Year and conference-leading scorer Alanna Sharman has led the way on offence for the Bisons, netting four goals and eight points in six playoff games.Senior forward Maggie Litchfield-Medd adds six points and sophomore forward Alana Serhan adds five while Canada West All-Rookie Team selections Erica Rieder (defence) and Lauryn Keen (forward) contribute four apiece.Second Team Conference All-Star Rachel Dyck has done her part in goal, stopping almost 150 shots in over 400 minutes of play with all the overtime, while Alberta’s First Team All-Star goalie, Lindsey Post, has relatively struggled for Alberta, allowing five goals on 38 shots, but has only played two games to Dyck’s six.Manitoba and Alberta, ranked ninth and fourth nationally respectively, split the season series, both earning 1-0 wins at home but losing the second game of the weekend series. The Bisons took a 4-3 win in Edmonton back in early November while the Pandas earned a 3-2 victory in Winnipeg three weeks later. In those games, Olenyk led all Alberta players with three goals while Canada West First Team All-Star Jessica Kampjes and fourth-year forward Lindsey Cunningham added two each.
Since the beginning of the second half of the 2014-15 season, the Bisons went 6-3-2-1 in reg. season and won four of last six games away.Historically, the two squads have met in seven previous post-season series, every time in Edmonton and for the Canada West championship. The Pandas have a 5-2 record all time, including the first four against Manitoba, but haven’t defeated the Bisons for the title since 2010. That series ended in a thrilling third-period comeback and triple-overtime victory, but Manitoba got revenge in 2011 with their own triple-overtime win and has won two of the last three series in Edmonton.
All games will be webcasted live on CanadaWest.TV. Below is the complete schedule and a statistical recap of the two teams’ seasons.
Game 1: Friday, March 6, 2:00 pm MST
Game 2: Saturday, March 7, 2:00 pm MST
Game 3: Sunday, March 8, 2:00 pm MDT (if necessary)
|Regular Season Record||14-5-7-2 (54)||19-1-7-1 (60)|
|Playoff Record||2-1 vs. Regina 3-1 vs. UBC||2-0 vs. Calgary|
|Last CW title||2011||2010|
|Last CIS title||N/A||2010|
Team Stats Leaders
|G||Alana Serhan (17)||Jessica Kampjes (13)|
|A||Alanna Sharman (23)||Hannah Olenyk (15)|
|PTS||Alanna Sharman (40)||Jessica Kampjes (16)|
|PIM||Maggie Litchfield-Medd & Cailtin Fyten (24)||Kirsten Toth (48)|
|SOG||Lauryn Keen (109)||Lindsey Cunningham (80)|