A thunderous, standing ovation greeted the legendary namesake of the arena on the west end of campus Saturday night as the Bears cruised to a weekend sweep of their Canada West opponents, the University of Manitoba Bisons, in their 100th season as a hockey club.
To help celebrate their centennial campaign, Saturday’s game kicked off with a pre-game ceremony to honour eighty-four-year-old former Golden Bears head coach, Clare Drake. His legacy includes, among other things, leading both the Golden Bears hockey and football teams to national championships and becoming the winningest coach in CIS history over nearly three decades at the helm.
After being greeted to a standing ovation by the nearly 900 fans in attendance, the Bears struck first blood with a Johnny Lazo goal midway through the first period. The goal was Lazo’s second of the season, picking up from where he left off Friday night in the Bears 4-2 win against the Bisons. After a Brett Ferguson tripping penalty late in the frame led to a Manitoba equalizer with less than three minutes to go, the Bears conceded another in the final minute, at the hands of Bisons forward Luke Cain, putting the U of M up by one heading into the second period.
The Bears came into the second with guns blazing as two early goals from defenceman Thomas Carr and Lazo — his second of the game and third of the season — on the powerplay vaulted the Bears into the lead, one they would not relinquish. Alberta came from being behind 2-1 at the end of the first to score six unanswered goals and clinch their second victory of the young season.
“We got in a bit of a lull in the second period, game them some momentum,” said Bears first-year head coach Ian Herbers. “But we came out that second period with two powerplay goals and took the momentum back and started playing our game again.”
Building off the game on Friday night, in which the Bears skated to a win over their opponents from Winnipeg, forwards Johnny Lazo and Jordan Hickmott added to their CanWest goal totals, amassing three goals each over the one weekend of play.
“They were good,” said Herbers of his second and third-year forwards. “Hickmott stepped his level of play up this weekend, his best weekend I think he’s had as a Golden Bear. He played strong, he played physical, he played as a big forward. He was rewarded going to the net with screens and deflections and that’s the way he needs to play.”
The Bears, who took close to 50 shots on both nights, continued to play hard even after they had secured a comfortable lead over their CanWest opponents. The Bears’ seventh goal of the game, courtesy of second-year forward James Dobrowolski, came with twenty seconds left on the game clock.
“(If) we’re going to get up, we’re not going to sit back,” said Herbers on his team’s continued efforts throughout the game. “We don’t want to play hesitant hockey. We want to play tempo, pace, force teams to make mistakes.”
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