NAPANEE, Ont. (U SPORTS) – The No.6 Alberta Pandas clinched their spot in Sunday’s gold medal game with a 6-2 win over the No.7 Concordia Stingers in the primetime finale of Saturday’s tripleheader at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ont.
The Golden Path Trophy will be on the line Sunday at 7:00 p.m. ET when the Pandas (2-0) will face the No.4 McGill Martlets (2-0). The Stingers will face off against No.1 UBC (1-1) in the bronze medal game at 3 p.m. ET.
The gold medal matchup will feature the two most successful programs in U SPORTS women’s hockey history in Alberta (seven titles) and McGill (four titles). The Pandas last national conquest came at the 2010 tournament, while the Martlets earned the national championship in 2014. The two teams have combined to win 11 of the 19 championships in U SPORTS history.
“I’m very happy,” said Alberta head coach Howie Draper. “I just felt that as the game went on we seemed to wear them down — our team got stronger as the game went on and executed better.”
The Pandas were paced in Saturday’s semifinal win by an Alex Poznikoff hat-trick, while captain Sasha Lutz added a goal and assist and rearguard Morgan Kelly notched a pair of assists.
“(Poznikoff)’s huge,” said Draper. “Despite her diminutive size, she just goes, goes, goes. She’s that threat that every coach needs on their team to create opportunities for the players around her.”
Concordia’s Katherine Purchase made 17 saves on 21 shots, while Alberta’s Lindsey Post turned aside 12 of 14 shots she faced.
Concordia opened the scoring just 19 seconds into the first period, as Claudia Dubois surprised Post with a quick snapshot from the side of the net. Alberta was able to tie the game up on Poznikoff’s first of the game, but the Stingers struck again just 35 seconds later on a wrist shot from Marie-Joellle Allard to restore their lead heading into the first intermission.
In the second period, Alberta pushed the pace and were able to get pucks in on Purchase. The Pandas saw an early goal from Poznikoff to tie the game up at 2-2, before they were finally able to break the game open near the end of the second. Alberta scored two goals in the final 5:09 of the frame, with Kelsey Tangjerd deflecting a shot in and Lutz finishing off a power play goal.
In the third, Concordia ran out of steam. The Pandas added two empty net goals for good measure, including the hat-trick marker for Poznikoff, who was named the Player of the Game for Alberta.
“Obviously we wanted a different result,” said Concordia head coach Julie Chu after the loss. “We wanted to be going after a national championship tomorrow but Alberta is a really good team. They came out with a lot of speed and, in the second period especially, what got to us. Our team, they fought and they’ve got a great character and we’re really proud of the efforts they made all season long.”
GAME NOTES: Only four players (Pamela Psihogios, Gabrielle Davidson, Emily Davies, Brittany Smrke) remain on the Martlet roster from the 2014 championship…Alberta won five of six national titles spanning from 2002 to 2007.