Mount Royal draws first blood against Thunderbirds; lead Canada West Quarterfinal 1-0
Justin McCaffrey, Mount Royal Cougars Sports Information
Calgary, AB – A timely goal in the dying seconds of the second period by Zack Henry propelled the Mount Royal Cougars to a 3-1 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds. MRU now leads the best-of-three series 1-0.
Colin Cooper made 20 of 21 saves to secure his first ever playoff victory. Eric Hewitt stopped 36 of 29 shots in the loss.
The Cougars brought pressure early in the first period, cycling at will down low on the Thunderbirds. The fourth line of Bill Marshall, Sebastien Pare and Jarid Hauptman was especially effective, reeking havoc on UBCs defenders in the early stages of the game.
Jamie King broke the deadlock at 11:39 mark of the first. Cam Maclise carried the puck over the blue line 1-on-3 and ragged the puck deep behind the goal. Maclise shrugged off a defender and found King. King ripped a bullet right over the blocker of Eric Hewitt.
The Cougars extended their lead early in the second period. Grant Baker made a great play along the blue line to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He then slid it across the blue line to Jordan McNaughton who cocked his stick looking to shoot. Out of the corner of his eye, McNaughton spotted David Stephens coming off the bench. Stephens grabbed the pass and one-timed the puck through the legs of Hewitt.
UBC got back in the game on the power play. A defensive zone breakdown left the puck on the stick of Luke Lockhart. Lockhart head-faked Colin Cooper and slid the puck over to Austin Vetterl. With Cooper at his mercy, Vetterel buried the puck to get UBC to within one.
It looked as though Mount Royal would take a one-goal lead into the break but Zack Henry changed that in a split second. With 3 seconds left in the period, David Stephens won the faceoff back to Zack Henry who unleashed a laser beam over the shoulder of Hewitt with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock.
Neither team scored in the third period but the feistiness from the Thunderbirds was at an all-time high. One after another, Thunderbirds' players were ejected to a massive ovation from the home crowd.
When the final buzzer sounded the Cougars emerged with 3-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead in the best-of-three Canada West Quarterfinal series.
UBC will try to even the series tomorrow night at 7pm at Flames Community Arenas. A third and deciding game will be played Sunday night if necessary.