LETHBRIDGE — It simply was not a good night for the Lethbridge Pronghorns at home on Friday, as they lost their first game of the weekend series against the Alberta Pandas by a score of 6 – 1.
With the win, the Alberta Pandas (14-1-6-0, 44 pts) leapfrog the Calgary Dinos (13-1-2-5, 43 pts) for sole position of top spot in the Canada West conference, while the Lethbridge Pronghorns (6-1-3-11, 23 pts) remain in seventh place, four points behind the UBC Thunderbirds (7-1-4-9, 27 pts) in the race for the final playoff spot.
Despite an otherwise resolvent first period in front of fans at the Nicholas Sheran Arena, the Pronghorns could not recover from the two-goal deficit imposed by the Pandas in the opening 20 minutes.
Alberta’s performance was spearheaded by a strong game by Kennedy Ganser and her two goals, one assist, and three shots in the match. Defenceman Cayle Dillon propelled the Pandas offensively thanks to her three assists, and Danielle Hardy tallied a goal and an assist on two shots.
Goaltender Halle Oswald also had a very good game for the Pandas, stopping all but one of the 26 shots that came her way. Lethbridge starter Alicia Anderson allowed 6 goals on 21 shots in her credited loss.
The Pandas found the back of the net just past the 12-minute mark of the first period. After getting the puck from Cayle Dillon entering the zone, Payton Laumbach centered herself for a shot at the slot. Her first shot was redirected back by a Pronghorns defender, and her second shot deflected off of Danielle Hardy and behind Anderson to open the scoring.
Alberta continued to press throughout the remainder of the period and their efforts rewarded in the 17th minute, thanks to a tie-up faceoff win by Taylor Anker providing a clear shooting lane for Kelsey Tangjerd to put her team up by two, heading into the first intermission.
Period two had five goals find twine: a pair of Pandas goals, followed by the only marker for the Pronghorns, and another pair of Pandas goals.
Off a powerplay faceoff win by Kennedy Ganser, Dillon retrieved the puck and took a screened shot that was rebounded by Anderson directly to Ganser, who reached around the goalie to tuck in her team’s first of the frame.
Once again off a powerplay faceoff win by Ganser, the Pandas cycled the puck through Madison Willan and Dillon, before Ganser took her shot from the half-boards, beating Anderson for her second of the game.
Lethbridge’s only tally of the game came thanks to a failed clearing attempt by the Pandas, as Eryn Johanson’s slap-pass to the net was touched in by Tallon Stephenson past Oswald.
Holding control in the Pronghorns zone, Alex Gowie cycled the puck down to Autumn MacDougall, who skated up and around to the high slot for her shot, which rebounded in front of Anderson to Laubmach for her team’s third goal of the frame.
Finally, to close out the second period and the game’s scoring, a quick passing play in succession between Ganser, MacDougall, and Willan, the last of whose shot went past a sprawling Anderson.
Willan’s goal ended Anderson’s night after playing out the second frame, before Chloe Marshall came out to start the third. Marshall turned aside all seven shots she faced to close out the game.
The final game of this weekend series takes place Saturday, January 18, at the Nicholas Sheran Arena. Puck drop is at 1 PM.