Pandas to face Laurier in CIS semi

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

The Alberta Pandas are facing a one-game showdown for a chance to battle for CIS hockey glory.

Running its shutout streak to a staggering 385:59 minutes, the Pandas pasted the host University of Ottawa Gee-Gees 5-0 last night to set up today's national semifinal match against rival Wilfrid Laurier.

"It will probably have to be our best game of the season thus far (to win)," said Panda Lindsay McAlpine, the reigning CIS player of the year.

"(Laurier) plays very offensive oriented.

"I think we are very well matched teams."

Alberta and Laurier have an emotional history at the CIS tournament. Laurier ended the Pandas 111-game undefeated string in the 2005 national gold-medal game by posting a 4-1 victory.

The Pandas got sweet revenge last year, beating Laurier 2-1 for gold.

This year, nothing seems to separate the teams at the CIS national tourney.

Both clubs beat Ottawa 5-0 to open the tournament.

As usual, the Pandas' top line of McAlpine, Tarin Podloski and Jenna Barber couldn't be stopped last night.

Barber had two goals while McAlpine also had two goals and two assists.

But nothing had a bigger impact than McAlpine's first tally of the night with just 14 seconds left in the first period.

After taking four straight penalties to open the game, the first goal settled Alberta's nerves.

"It was huge," said Pandas head coach Howie Draper on the goal.

"Our team always plays best when we get that first goal.

"I don't like to complain about (officiating)," he continued.

"I felt that maybe the ref unfortunately missed some of the stuff that went the other way."

The most successful CIS female hockey program in history, Alberta is gunning for its unprecedented sixth national title.

The gold-medal game is tomorrow.

FINISH LINES: Holly Tarleton got the shutout and will start tonight.


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