Dan Khavkin, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY- A crazy back-and-forth affair in an all-Cougars game between Regina and MRU ended in a 7-6 shootout victory for Regina, picking their first win of the season.
Regina scored early to take the first of six lead changes in the game.
MRU forward Connor Rankin received a boarding penalty after knocking down Regina defenceman Kirk Bear right after getting away with a slashing call.
Colton Sparrow desperately dove and poked the puck in the net, capitalizing on the ensuing power-play just 64 seconds into the contest and gave his team a 1-0 advantage.
After MRU put themselves shorthanded minutes after the goal, Rankin redeemed himself by scoring shorthanded.
The former Calgary Hitmen stripped the puck from a Regina defender in their end and got in one on one, beating rookie Michael Herringer sliding the puck on the far side and tied the game up at ones.
Regina took the lead back halfway through the first frame.
After a long shot from the point got past a screened Hoflin and hit the post, the puck landed right on Ben Duperreault's wheelhouse who calmly slid the puck into the net.
Hoflin just missed the puck with his paddle but might've saved the chance had he had another try at it.
Later on, Rankin took a hit in open ice and at first seemed to have taken it well but was slow to get up. Regina jumped on the turnover and lead to a breakaway but was denied by an attentive Hoflin.
This save turned to be huge as in the next play MRU tied the game at 2-2
Zach Henry and newly appointed captain Jamie King forced a turnover and both sprung themselves on a two-on-one, Henry put the puck into the top netting over the head of Herringer.
Hoflin proved to be huge yet again after making a key breakaway save short-handed.
On the counter-attack, MRU newcomer Bradley Kennedy scored his first career CIS goal and gave his home the first lead of the game at 3-2.
Regina bounced back, tying the game with 40 seconds to spare courtesy of first-year Zach Zborosky.
Both teams went off with a 3-3 scoreline into the first break.
MRU sophomore Jamal Watson put the Cougars back on the front-foot with a short side shot past Herringer giving MRU a 4-3 lead.
Regina was not phased and tied the game on a power-play shot that went of the post and past Hoflin and tied the game up at 4-4.
A costly turnover in the Cougars zone allowed for Ian McNulty to tap in a rebound after Zborosky stripped defender Jesse Lees.
The original shot by Zborosky was stopped by Hoflin but the puck lobbed over his pad on the second attempt.
The game was tied 5-5 by MRU when Kennedy solved the Regina goalie a second time, turning on a dime and going upstairs on Herringer to level the game.
Regina put up what seemed to be the game-deciding sixth spot on the scoreboard when second-year Tristan Frei clapped the puck passed Hoflin, but MRU responded with a six-spot of their own.
Luke Simpson pounced on a loose puck. Despite sticks and bodies littering the ice, he managed to flip the puck into the net and tie the thriller at 6-6.
4v4 overtime saw neither side solve the other.
3v3 overtime had a couple chances go both ways but the most notable being Regina goalie Herringer sprawling on his stomach and blocking a sure goal on a wraparound attempt.
Kennedy scored for MRU but it was Regina who won the marathon thanks to goals from McNaulty and Zborovsky in the extra shots round.
"Considering the fact that was my first ever shootout goal in my life ill always remember it," said the game-winning scorer Zborovsky.
"It's pretty exciting to win our first game of the season, it was a rollercoaster but it feels good to get the win,"
These two teams play the rematch at 3 pm at the Flames Community Arenas.
Regina edge MRU, go the distance to pick up first win of the season in shootout.
Dan Khavkin, Cougars Athletics