EDMONTON — Everything was coming up Alex for the University of Alberta Pandas on Saturday afternoon against the Manitoba Bisons. Alex Poznikoff and Alex Gowie scored two goals each, Poznikoff adding two helpers to pace the Pandas to a 5-0 victory over Manitoba at Clare Drake Arena.
Kirsten Chamberlin made 19 saves for her second shutout of the season, while Regan Wright added the other marker as Alberta won their third-straight game to improve to 8-6 in conference play.
“Our game is coming around, and I really liked the way we played today,” said Pandas head coach Howie Draper. “We were strong at both ends of the ice. Defensively, we didn’t allow a lot of opportunities in our house and when the puck was on the perimeter, we did a good job of shrinking the space on them.”
In an effort to spark the Pandas offensively, Draper mixed his top two lines up and it produced something special in the pair of wins over Manitoba. The line of Poznikoff, Gowie, and Danielle Hardy combined for eight goals in their first weekend together.
Gowie scored her first goal of the season in the first period to give Alberta a 1-0 lead in an opening period that saw the Pandas limit the Bisons to just one shot.
Poznikoff would score an absolute highlight reel goal just 16 seconds into the second period as she split two Bisons defenders and cut into the slot, making a nifty move to beat Bisons goaltender Erin Fargey, top shelf.
Wright would score just 3:50 later as she walked into the slot and ripped a hard shot past Fargey, and then Gowie added her second of the game just over 10 minutes later to put Alberta in a commanding lead.
“Adding Pozi to that line gives us more of a threat. Wherever she plays, it forces other teams to be conscious of her no matter where she is on the ice and Gowie is going to work her butt off, and Hardy has the touch around the net and works her butt off as well,” said Draper. “Now we have a bona fide unit that can score. We were trying to find that balance at the beginning of the year, and now I think we’ve found it.”
It was another gritty performance from the Pandas in the win over Manitoba. Alberta is loaded with skill, but now they're playing a more blue-collar game and are getting rewarded as their offence has started to find its stride.
“Everybody is willing to pay the price. They’ve bought in and they know that’s how we’re going to be successful. Those kind of dirty goals open up opportunities for the fancy ones,” said Draper.
Sometimes it can take time for a new line to find chemistry, but the Pandas new trio were dominant and couldn’t be contained by Manitoba all weekend long as they combined for eight goals and 12 points.
“We knew we really had to get things rolling. We’d watch Autumn (MacDougall) and Gans (Kennedy Ganser) and we really want to feed off their energy. Everyone was clicking and we were doing a real good job talking out there,” said Poznikoff. “A weekend like this is good for everyone, confidence wise, and it could be huge for us down the road.”
Alberta will try to continue to close the gap in the conference standings next weekend when they travel to Vancouver to face the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds (November 29-30) to close out the 2019 half of the regular season.