Pandas claim fifth at nationals
The Alberta Pandas and the Manitoba Bisons stepped on the ice with a lot to prove and a drive to win that burrowed significantly deeper than just being awarded fifth place in the CIS. national title.
After battling alongside one another all year in the Canada West division, both teams advanced to the CIS finals with only a two point deficit differentiating the Pandas from the Bisons.
Alberta forward and Game MVP Melody Howard commented about her close competitors were
“After the Canada West finals we had something to prove,” she said. “We outshot them in that series and we felt like we could have been the better team if we were consistent so this was our chance to prove that our team was better.”
From the drop of the puck in the first, this pivotal game quickly indicated through aggressive back checking, shots from the point and scrums in the crease that both the Panda’s and the Bison desperately wanted to travel home with a taste of victory.
As Alberta’s offence proved to be a threatening asset in their ability to move the puck along the boards and up the middle Manitoba entertained their game strategy by diverting loose pucks into the corner causing quick break outs and goal scoring opportunities. Although both teams came out equally driven and energetic, at the end of the second as Alberta led 4-1 it became increasingly evident which team still had gas left in the tank and which did not. Manitoba picked up their game in the middle of the third by capitalising on an Alberta penalty where they decreased the gap between themselves and the Panda’s to only a two goal window by chipping one past goaltender Kaitlyn Chapman.
In fear of losing their hard-earned lead and becoming subordinate to the Bison’s, the Panda’s quickly regained momentum and dominated the rest of the third by utilizing their team’s communication on the ice. Despite the physical and emotional stamina of both teams Manitoba was not able to employ their team spirit and defensive presence to vehicle themselves to the win over Alberta. In conclusion, the game resulted in a final score of 5-2 for the Alberta Panda’s.
In spite of being unable to advance to the gold medal game, Alberta coach Howie Draper was still optimistic.
“This game was the most consistent game but every team comes hoping to win the gold and we are no different,” he said. “However, the good thing is we left with a win and it felt like our girls played with a lot of pride and determination despite the fact that it is sometimes hard to play in this particular game.”
Both the Pandas and the Bisons played with a lot of heart, but only one team could leave victorious and step above their competitor. In which case, the Pandas confirmed that they were capable of executing their game strategy in a more effective manner then the Bisons.