EDMONTON - Both teams scored from the penalty spot in the second half, as the Alberta Golden Bears and Mount Royal Cougars finished the Canada West conference season with a 1-1 draw, Sunday afternoon at Foote Field.
Jeff Blake opened the scoring for Mount Royal from the penalty spot in the 66th minute, while Nikko Cuglietta tied the game with a penalty kick goal in the 89th. Both teams had already clinched a spot in the conference playoffs, and with a decisive win by Calgary today, had little to play for on Sunday. Alberta had already clinched the top spot in the Prairie Division, and end their season with a 9-1-4 record. The Bears will host a conference quarter-final next weekend, against the 5-5-6 UNBC Timberwolves. Mount Royal closes out their season with a 4-4-6 record, and will visit the UBC Thunderbirds next week in their QF.
Both teams played a large amount of non-regulars and fifth-year athletes on Sunday, with both of their playoff seeds virtually decided. Because of that, Sunday's game opened at a snails pace, with the teams combining for just two first-half shots. Cuglietta had a pair of decent looks in the first from inside the Cougars box, but both of his shots flew wide of the target. The Cougars mustered a lone shot in the first half, but Branden Canejo's look from distance was easily turned aside by Connor James.
Things picked up a bit in the second half, as the Bears and Cougars exchanged decent chances, culminating in Blake's PK goal in the 65th minute. The goal was Blake's second of the season, as he narrowly slid a shot underneath James in the bottom right corner.
Cuglietta, who was arguably the best player in Sunday's game, evened things up with almost no time left in the second half. Cougar goalie Evan Kaake was given a yellow card inside his crease, setting up the game's second penalty kick. Cuglietta made no mistake from the spot, beating Kaake bottom left for his seventh goal of the campaign in just his ninth game.
Alberta is 1-0 vs UNBC this season, earning a 3-1 win over the 'Wolves earlier this season in Prince George. Mount Royal's QF meeting with UBC with be their first meeting of 2017.