Connor Hood - Golden Bears and Pandas Athletics
EDMONTON - First-year University of Alberta Golden Bear Brandon Magee scored 2:43 into the first overtime period, giving Alberta a 4-3 win over the Mount Royal Cougars in Game 1 of their best-of-three semifinal series, Friday night at Clare Drake Arena.
The goal was Magee's second of the night, in his first career playoff game for Alberta. Stephane Legault and Tyson Baillie also found the net for Alberta on Friday, while sophomore goalie Brendan Burke made 17 saves for his fourth career Canada West playoff win.
Coming off an upset win over Manitoba last weekend in the conference quarter-final, Mount Royal followed it up with another strong performance in Edmonton, but came up just short of their first-ever playoff win over Alberta. Tanner Olstad, Brad Kennedy, and Josh Bly scored for MRU, who will now need back-to-back wins to qualify for their first-ever Canada West Final.
While neither team scored in the opening period, both teams played with pace and physicality. Alberta led 11-8 on the shot clock, but a majority of the scoring chances came from the Cougars. Burke stopped all eight he faced, with MRU starter Cam Lanigan stopping 11, as they kept the game scoreless after one.
Mount Royal's strong play was rewarded early in the second, as Olstad opened the scoring just 21 seconds in. Taking a feed from Jamal Watson, Olstad beat Burke for his second playoff goal this season.
After a 'bye' week last week through the quarter-final series, Alberta started to find their legs midway through the second, as Legault evened the game at 1-1. Off a scramble in the MRU crease, Legault was able to pot the loose puck in the paint past a sprawling Lanigan. Alberta doubled their lead just four minutes later, as Magee ripped in his first of the night past Lanigan.
Seizing momentum before the second intermission, MRU leveled the game at two with under a minute to go in the second. Kennedy re-directed the David Stephens shot up and over Burke's shoulder, sneaking it under the cross bar.
The back-and-forth thriller continued in the third, as Bly's goal midway through the period restored the one-goal Cougar lead. That lead would be short-lived, however, as Baillie scored just 42 seconds later to tie Game 1 at 3-3.
Both teams had chances to end the game in regulation, but were unable to beat the respective goaltenders.
Dominating from the opening faceoff of overtime, Alberta earned the 1-0 series lead as Magee tapped in the fantastic cross-ice pass from Riley Kieser just under three minutes in.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. tomorrow night at Clare Drake Arena, with Game 3, if necessary, going at the same time on Sunday.