Dan Khavkin, Cougars Athletics
CALGARY- The Mount Royal Cougars welcomed the defending national champions Alberta Golden Bears for the second time on home ice but couldn't avoid the weekend sweep, suffering a 5-0 loss after getting their eight-game unbeaten streak in regulation snapped the night prior.
MRU have not picked up a win against Alberta since October 2014 and are now winless against the Golden Bears for the 15th consecutive game.
"Take some lessons from this." MRU head coach Bert Gilling commented on the takeaways from the weekend. "The emotion of going through it felt like everything piled on but against the best team in the nation, you got to bury this and move on to a huge series next against Calgary."
"We need points. Every series is big, we went from the bottom to potential home-ice. Were done with Alberta and got Calgary ahead of us so it should be easy to set our sights to get back on track."
Colin Cooper got the nod to start in net for MRU for the first time since the second weekend of the season and was facing the Golden Bears for the second time after coming into relief for Riley Morris the night before.
Cooper was the sole reason for keeping the first period scoreless as he had to stand at attention 14 times against the nifty puck-moving Golden Bears.
Meanwhile, the MRU offense couldn't muster any threatening chances inside the spaceless Alberta zone, flicking six shots on second-year Zach Sawchenko who picked up a 21-win shutout.
The Cougars held their own for the first period before the dominance of Alberta poured on.
Alberta finally broke through and solved Cooper to begin an offensive onslaught as the potent Golden Bear offense scored on four of their first five shots in the second period.
Brandon Magee and the Golden Bears' top-ranked power play broke the deadlock just 3:31 into the period before veteran Cole Sanford finished his attempt on net following a nifty toe-drag to double the Alberta lead 7:12 into the second frame.
Taylor Cooper added the third Golden Bear goal when he walked in as a Cougar power play was expiring. Slowing his pace into the zone, he faked a pass both ways before wiring a shot off the post and in from the point.
Finally, Grayson Pawlenchuk ended the burst of offense as his 10th goal of the season and third Alberta goal in a span of five minutes concluded the scoring for the dominate Golden Bear side.
A frustrated and outgunned MRU side mustered 12 shots in the first two periods and failed to get anything going on the man-advantage, not scoring on four chances in the period and seven in total.
Morris came into relief for the third period but got scored on his first shot on Sanford's second goal of the night along with the second power-play goal 2:32 into the third period.
Chris Gerrie had the best Cougar chance late in the frame when his one-timed shot had Sawchenko down and out but the net-minder got a blocker while down on the ice.
MRU host Calgary Friday night before the big game at the Saddledome while Alberta travel for a weekend set in Regina.