LETHBRIDGE, AB – The University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team exploded for six goals on Saturday, Feb. 9, to snap their three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars in their regular season finale.
Seven different players registered points for the home side, and Taz Burman was stellar in the crease making 35 saves in his first win as a member of the Pronghorns.
Following the pregame ceremony honouring graduating players Artisom Kalashnikov, Blake Orban, Connor Sanvido, and Justin Valentino, both teams came out flying looking for the game’s opening goal.
The Cougars pressed offensively early on, but it was the Pronghorns who struck first. Lethbridge forward Michael Grant forced his way to the Cougars net, along with a crashing Torrin White, and White would put the puck behind Cougars starter Riley Morris to put the Pronghorns up 1-0 just shy of the seven-minute mark of period one.
Despite outshooting the Pronghorns by the halfway point of the period, the Cougars couldn’t take advantage which allowed Lethbridge to break through again.
After Russell Maxwell's initial high shot from the slot was stopped by Morris, the rebound kicked loose to Brooks Maxwell, who put the puck behind Morris to make it 2-0.
Despite the score, by the end of the 1st period, it would be Mount Royal outshooting Lethbridge 17- 9.
Lethbridge began to take control of the momentum nearing the game's halfway point, thanks in part to a cross-checking penalty against the Cougar’s Colton Bobyk. Derek Brown gathered a loose puck after a scramble on the powerplay and put it onto Landon Gross' stick, who tucked in the easy goal to give the Pronghorns a 3-0 lead.
Not long after the Pronghorns third goal, Mount Royal began to show a little bit of life, scoring two goals in just over a minute to cut the ‘Horns lead to 3-2.
Despite the strong efforts by the visiting side, Lethbridge would eventually respond with two goals of their own, restoring their three-goal buffer.
Right off a faceoff to the right of Morris, Dalton Sward slipped past the centreman to get control of the puck and tuck it past Morris on the far-side. Just about two minutes after the Pronghorns fourth goal, Derek Brown would beat Colton Bobyk in a race for the puck, eventually cutting behind the defender for position in the slot to wrist the puck past Morris, restoring his team's three-goal lead.
The final frame began with very little offensive action from either team, with the shot clock only showing a 5-4 Lethbridge advantage at the 10-minute mark.
At 11:06 of the final frame, the Maxwell cousins teamed up again. Brooks, after getting the puck from Brown, would play a little tic-tac-toe with cousin Russell before roofing it above Cougars goaltender Colin Cooper who replaced Morris after the 2nd period. Brooks Maxwell's second of the game would be the final tally of the game, helping the Pronghorns take the final game of the regular season.
With the win, the Pronghorns conclude their sixth-placed regular season campaign with a 9-17-2 record and will travel to Calgary next weekend to face the Calgary Dinos in a best of three quarterfinal series.
The Pronghorns quarterfinal series will start on Friday, Feb. 15, at Father David Bauer Arena beginning at 7 p.m.
Game two will go Saturday night at 6 p.m. and game three if necessary is Sunday, also starting at 6 p.m.
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