Justin McCaffrey, Mount Royal Sports Information
CALGARY – In his final home opener as the captain of the Cougars, Matt Brown was the hero, scoring three times to lead the Cougars to a 5-2 win over the University of Calgary Dinos. Devin Gannon and Connor Rankin also notched goals for Mount Royal in the decisive victory. Cain Franson scored the lone goal for the Dinos.
With Flames Community Arenas ready to explode for the first edition of the Crowchild Classic, the Cougars wasted no time getting on the board. Connor Rankin had his way with Jared Hauf deep in the Dinos' zone and Hauf had no choice but to pull him down, sending Mount Royal to the power play.
After some early struggles to enter the zone, the Cougars set up and started moving the puck around. Tanner Olstad took a bad angle shot but the rebound fell right on the stick of Captain Matt Brown who buried it to give Mount Royal the early lead.
Brown was far from done. Coda Gordon took another penalty for the Dinos, sending the Cougars right back to the man advantage. Tanner Olstad made a gutsy play to keep the puck in at the line then ripped a shot on goal. The shot was blocked and then Olstad rolled to the middle. Looking shot all the way, Olstand threw a seeing-eye pass over two sticks right onto Brown's tape. All Brown had to do was tap it into the empty net for his second of the contest.
The Cougars rode their momentum into the second period and struck again at the 2:22 mark. A slick passing play between Matt Bellerive and Luke Simpson created a chance down low. The puck found its way onto the stick of Devin Gannon. Gannon had three whacks at it before he finally got it up and over Steven Stanford to increase the Cougars lead to three goals.
The Dinos finally gained some momentum and started to push back against the Cougars. However every time they had a decent scoring chance, Colin Cooper was there to thwart it. Cooper stopped all 15 shots he faced through two periods of play.
Late in the third, the Dinos made a bad line change and a quick transition saw Matt Brown walk in all alone from the blue line. Brown did his best Patrick Kane impression, quickly moving side to side, before slamming it home on the forehand for his hat trick goal.
Three minutes into the third, Grant Baker and Devin Gannon took simultaneous penalties on the same play, setting the Dinos out on a 5-on-3. Veteran Cain Franson took advantage of the space and curled to the middle. Franson looked off his teammate and let it go right it past the ear of Cooper to get the Dinos on the board. However that is as close as they would come.
Connor Rankin and Danny Gayle would trade goals to close out the game as Mount Royal took game one of the Crowchild Classic rivalry by a score of 5-2.
Mount Royal is now the only unbeaten team in the conference with a record of 3-0-0. Calgary suffers their first loss of 2016 and fall to 2-1-0 on the season.
The series shifts to Father David Bauer Arena for the second match of their weekend set. Tomorrownight's contest will go at 6pm on the University of Calgary campus.