Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorns Athletics
Lethbridge – Riding a two-game winning streak, it took double overtime but the Lethbridge Pronghorns continued their winning ways, edging the U Sports third ranked Alberta Golden Bears 3-2 to open the weekend set in Lethbridge.
For the second year in a row, Tim Campbell was the overtime hero for the Pronghorns in a win over the Golden Bears in Lethbridge. Campbell took a pass near centre ice, cutting to the middle past a Bears defender and outwaited Alberta Golden Bear goaltender Luke Siemens, before putting a shot into the upper part of the net to give the 'Horns their sixth win of the season.
Last season in the Friday night opener, Campbell scored in overtime to give the 'Horns a 3-2 at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
The win improves the 'Horns to 6-4-3 on the season and continues their positive results versus ranked opponents this season.
Heading into tonight's contest the 'Horns were 3-0-1 versus nationally ranked opponents, sweeping the then sixth ranked Mount Royal Cougars last weekend and earning three of a possible four points in Saskatoon earlier this season.
With the overtime loss the Bears drop to 9-3-1 and fall one point behind the Saskatchewan Huskies for top spot in Canada West.
With both teams entering the weekend off a sweep of their previous opponent, the 'Horns and third ranked Golden Bears looked to keep their streaks going and the result was a fast paced opening 20 minutes.
The Bears opened the scoring only six minutes into the game, off a 3-on-1 rush, Sawyer Lange dropped it back to a trailing Jaden Hart who made no mistake, beating Hughson high blocker.
The face paced period continued and the 'Horns would have multiple point blank shots to tie the score but Luke Siemens turned aside Russ Maxwell, Torin White and Ryon Moser.
Just past the mid-point of the period, the 'Horns would finally get rewarded on an odd man rush of their own. Mitch Maxwell found Pronghorn leading goal scorer Justin Valentino streaking into the slot and he went over Siemens shoulder for his 10th of the season.
Despite a spirited final few minutes, there was no further scoring in the opening period and like the score, shots on goal were deadlocked with each team registering 11.
After a penalty-free opening period, the 'Horns would get the first man advantage of the game in the second but just as the Bears penalty expired, it would be the visitors that would break the deadlock. Following a turnover at the Bears blue line, Riley Kieser would keep the puck on a clear odd man rush and beat Hughson short side to give the Bears the 2-1 lead.
On another Pronghorn power play, Torin White nearly brought the 'Horns back level, beating Siemens but not the crossbar.
Through 40 minutes, the Bears carried a 2-1 lead but the 'Horns held the advantage on the shot clock, 23-19.
Continuing their tough play against nationally ranked opponents, the 'Horns knotted the game up at two just over a minute into the third period. Dalton Sward took a bounce off the back boards and banked a shot off Siemens from behind the goal line and in.
Looking to take their first lead of the game, Siemens robbed Sward on a shorthanded breakaway and made a stellar reaction save a short time later on Russ Maxwell.
The Bears weren't without their chances as well, Ben Carroll was the benefactor of a ricochet off a 'Horns skate and had a yawning cage but his tough one-timer across his body just missed and Mitch Maxwell intercepted a Bears cross ice pass and nearly put it into his own net.
Despite quality chances at both ends, nothing further would be decided until Campbell ended it in the three-on-three portion of overtime.
Hughson turned aside 32 Bears shot in the win, while Siemens was the busier of the two goaltenders, making 41 saves in the loss.
The 'Horns and Bears will be back at it tomorrow night, puck drops at Nicholas Sheran Arena at 7:00PM.