Two heavyweights of Canada’s women’s hockey world threw the gauntlet for a pre-season exhibition game, setting up a challenge for their respective teams at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation centre on Friday, Sept. 18.
At the head of the Pandas of University of Alberta girls’ team was Howie Draper, current assistant coach for the Canadian national women’s hockey team, a seven-time CIS national champion, while Danielle Goyette was coaching the Dinos of the University of Calgary, an inductee in the International Hockey Federation’s Hall of Fame and a three-time Olympic medalist.
The teams were in Ponoka to promote both Lacoka girls’ hockey and the Ponoka Minor Hockey Association and the honour of the ceremonial puck drop was left to Janelle Parent, one of Ponoka’s own female hockey players, who started in her home town went on to win several accolades, including an all-star title in Canada West second team.
Somewhat predictably for a season opener, the game started in a rather lackluster fashion but became exciting and competitive as it progressed.
Early in the first period, it was mostly Dinos attacking the Panda net and the first 10 minutes of the game was mostly spent in front of the Pandas net wit superb goaltending denying the attacking Calgary ladies any chance of score. After the midway point in the first period, Pandas slowly established the balance on the rink and started to test the Dinos goalkeeper with increasingly frequent attacks. The first goal of the game in power play in the 16th minute of the first period when Pandas struck from close range with Erinn Baddock.
It took Dinos only two minutes to equalize with Iya Gavrilova to finish the period with a balanced score.
In the second period, Pandas slowly started to dominate the rink, keeping the puck in possession and taking more shots at the Dinos net, but they could score only once when Hannah Olenyk scored in style.
When Megan Eady struck in just the second minute of the third period to widen Panda’s lead to two points, the outcome of the game almost appeared to have been decided.
However, Dinos were in no mood to give up. They attempted to increase their pressure on Pandas only to find their attacks rebuffed. In the last three minutes of the game, coach Goyette pulled the Dinos goalie back to the bench. With Pandas down to five players with a penalty three minutes from the end of regulation, it seemed Dinos had life again. But it was Pandas who sent the puck to the Dinos net once again, a goal, which was disallowed on grounds that a player was offside. But Pandas did not mind doing it again through Sasha Lutz, to seal the game score at 4-1.