Friday night’s score of 5-2 in favour of the visiting University of Regina Cougars was the early-season wake-up call required to kick-start the work ethic needed for the Bisons to make a return trip to the nationals.
The scoring was opened with a power-play goal by former Bison Terrance Delaronde at 15:27 of the first period. In the second, an even-strength marker by Regina’s Craig Cuthbert and a power-play goal by Matt Streuby put the home team down by three. Less than 30 seconds after the power-play goal, the Bisons finally got on the board when Jared Walker potted an even-strength marker.
Flashes of last year’s playoff performance in Thunder Bay emerged in the final period as Tyler Dittmer brought the home team within one. In spite of the pressure the Bisons presented, they just couldn’t find the twine behind the Cougars’ goaltender Adam Ward.
The momentum died when Russ Nielson put a short-handed goal past Steve Christie and Lucas Isley followed with an even-strength tally to round out the Cougar’s scoring.
“We’re going to come out flying tomorrow,” said a disgusted Riley Dudar. “That was embarrassing. Everyone in that locker room is embarrassed about that hockey game. We got to come and compete; we were soft out there. We gave them everything.”
Saturday night saw the Bisons respond with a powerful 7-0 win.
“We had to come out and rebound tonight,” said second-year forward Blair MacAuley. “It didn’t come out the way we wanted last night. We’re a better team than that.”
Eighteen minutes and 46 seconds into the first period, Bisons’ rookie Jeremy Schnappert snapped in a shot from the top of the right circle to open the scoring for the home team. Just over a minute later, Nolan Waker flipped in his first of two goals on the night to end the period.
The onslaught continued in the second with Troy Crowley scoring a sneaky wraparound at 8:59 and Waker getting his second of the night, making a nifty deflection.
Eighteen minutes and 24 seconds of the second saw a controversial power-play goal scored by Bisons’ captain Mike Hellyer. Although the goal counted, goaltender Adam Ward argued the call, alleging the net was off its moorings when Hellyer made the backhanded shot from behind the goal line, which deflected off Ward’s glove. When Ward’s argument was ignored, he threw the net off its moorings, resulting in him being ejected from the game and assessed a misconduct.
“I thought I’d pushed the net off and then the puck had gone off my glove and up in the air,” admitted a much calmer Adam Ward after the game.
“I thought there was no way that the puck had gone in before the net had gone off. It just boiled over into a little frustration, [ . . . ] not just because of that goal but because of the way the whole game had gone. I over-reacted a little bit.”
“The net was definitely off, but it looked like he’d kicked it off afterwards,” said MacAuley about the goal in question.
The fireworks continued in the third. Twenty-two seconds into the frame, a five-on-five scrap broke out, sending all players involved to the sin bin. Later, the Cougars received a hooking call and MacAuley got his first goal of the night, scoring on the power play at 2:53 of the third. MacAuley made his second goal at 10:12, rounding out the scoring for the Bisons.
“Tonight, every guy in the dressing room wanted to win the battles everywhere on the ice; it was a pretty night and day game,” said MacAuley.
STREAKERS: Leading the streaks is Blair MacAuley, who had two goals and two assists on the weekend. Other streakers include Mike Hellyer (1G, 2A), Jared Walker (1G, 1A) and Tyler Dittmer (1G, 1A).
UPCOMING: The Bisons have the upcoming weekend off, their next action on the road against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Bisons next home games will be against the Regina Cougars November 5-6.