Justin McCaffrey, Mount Royal Sports Information
CALGARY – Connor Rankin and Cam Maclise each scored a pair of goals in Mount Royal's 6-2 victory over Lethbridge. Lethbridge racked up the penalty minutes and Mount Royal converted four power play goals on the way to victory.
The Cougars were awarded a power play early in the first but it was Lethbridge who capitalized. A sloppy pinch by the Cougars' defence led to a two-on-one going the other way. Clint Filbrandt looked off Colin Cooper and buried a shot far side. The Pronghorns led 1-0 after just 3:55 minutes of play.
Just as the man advantage expired, Connor Rankin got it right back. The league's leading scorer added to his goal total with a wicked wrister from the high slot. Rankin stole the puck from the defender and made no mistake, tying the game at one.
Mount Royal found themselves on the power play again in the second half of the period. This time it was a 5-on-3. After feverishly working the puck around the outside, Jesse Lees finally broke through on a seeing eye point shot that went top corner on Garret Hughson, giving the Cougars their first lead of the game.
Rankin scored his second of the game, again, on the power play. Cam Maclise corralled the puck on the half wall and fed it to Rankin at the side of the net. In one fluid motion, Rankin took the pass, spun and flipped it up and over Hughson.
Things got a little dicey late in the first period after Connor Rankin nearly scored his hat trick goal. After a quality scoring chance, Rankin was hit from behind in the corner then jumped by Filbrandt. Filbrandt cross-checked Rankin three times before Cam Maclise could get there to help out his teammate. Filbrandt was given a four-minute penalty and a ten minute misconduct.
Lethbridge managed to kill the four-minute disadvantage but their undisciplined play started to catch up to them. Mount Royal scored twice, on a 5-on-3, then on a 5-on-4 to blow the game wide open. After only 30 minutes of play, Mount Royal led 5-1. Nick Merkley got one back with 3:15 left in the second but Mount Royal took a comfortable 5-2 lead into the intermission.
Cam Maclise extended the Cougars' lead at the seven minute mark of the third. Maclise took a pass from Sebastien Pare in the high slot and ripped it off the post and in. That would be the final goal of the game as the two sides just tried to run out the clock in the final ten minutes.
Mount Royal improves to 12-6-1 on the season and into a tie for second place in the conference. Lethbridge drops to 8-8-3, sitting in fifth in the conference.
The series will shift to Lethbridge for the second half of the home and home series. Tomorrow night's puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm MST at Nicholas Sheran Arena.