LETHBRIDGE — In what was a redeeming performance by Lethbridge Pronghorns goaltender Alicia Anderson, the home side simply could not outpace the conference-leading Alberta Pandas, being shut out 2 – 0 on Saturday afternoon at the Nicholas Sheran Arena.
Alberta’s 11th straight win and season series win over the Pronghorns comes off the back of a shutout performance by Pandas starter Kirsten Chamberlin, who turned aside all 17 shots she faced. Lethbridge’s Alicia Anderson, who was pulled on Saturday after allowing six goals on 21 shots, saved 34 of 36 shots in her team’s losing effort.
Leading the way offensively for the Pandas were Abby Benning and her first goal of the weekend assisted by Kennedy Ganser, and Autumn MacDougall who scored the Pandas game-winning goal.
Early goings of the first period were relatively slow once again, with both sides being tight defensively. Alberta’s defences protected their goalie well, not allowing a single shot to reach their netminder in the first half of the frame, while accruing five of their own on Lethbridge’s Anderson.
Lethbridge’s only shot of the first period came on a shot from the high slot on the offensive zone entry by Alli Borrow, which was easily turned aside by Chamberlin. Teams left the ice after 20 minutes knotted up at zero, with Alberta holding a 7 – 1 shots lead.
It took the Pandas seven minutes and a power play in the second period to gather momentum for a goal. After switching positions with Madison Willan, Taylor Anker’s shot was deflected by Kennedy Ganser up front, and Autumn MacDougall collected the rebound and shot past Anderson to open the scoring.
Alberta’s second goal caused some confusion among the home fans. Ally Borrow was forced hard into the boards by Jaslin Sawatzky, who eventually pushed the puck up to Abby Benning. Benning skated coast-to-coast to get a snap shot away and through Anderson’s five-hole for a shorthanded marker to put the Pandas up by two heading into the final frame.
Period three saw no scoring, but lack of conversion on two early powerplay opportunities shuttered any opportunity to convert any momentum their way. The ‘Horns ended the game in some penalty trouble, being forced to kill off two double-minor penalties as time ticked down.
With the win, the Alberta Pandas (15-1-0-6, 47 pts) maintain a secure hold on first place in the Canada West conference, while the Lethbridge Pronghorns (6-1-3-12, 23 pts) remain in seventh place.
With a UBC Thunderbirds (8-1-4-9, 30 pts) win over the Manitoba Bisons (5-2-1-14, 20 pts), they leapfrog into fourth place in the conference, leaving the Pronghorns six points back of the final playoff spot held by the Mount Royal Cougars (9-1-0-11, 29 pts).
Both teams are in Calgary to start their home-and-home series next Friday, January 24th, where the Pronghorns head to the Flames Community Arena to take on Mount Royal, while the Pandas take on the Dinos at the Father David Bauer Arena.