After securing their first playoff berth since the 2003-04 season on the strength of a 9-15 conference record, Manitoba was swept in the first round of the Canada West playoffs by the top seeded UBC Thunderbirds.
Playing just this past weekend, UBC took the first game of the best-of-three series by a score of 106-75. The following night the Thunderbirds advanced to the final four after earning their second consecutive win over the Bisons 103-85. Manitoba guard Eric Garcia scored a series high 25 points for the Bisons in Saturday’s loss, adding five assists and three rebounds.
The women’s team failed to make the playoffs, finishing the season tenth in the Canada West conference with an 8-16.
The women’s hockey team began their playoff run mid-February when the Bisons defeated the Calgary Dinos 3-2 (OT) in their first game and then once more by a score of 3-2 the next day to take the best-of-three series 2-0. Having defeated Calgary, Manitoba advanced to the Canada West finals where they would face host Alberta, Feb. 25-27.
The Bisons opened the Canada West finals with a 2-0 victory over the Pandas. The game went scoreless until the second period when Manitoba converted on the power play with a goal from forward Meagan Vestby. With less than two minutes remaining in the second, Manitoba’s Addie Miles scored shorthanded to put the visiting Bisons up by two. Alberta outshot Manitoba 13-1 in the third but were ultimately unable to put anything past Bison netminder Tara Lacquette, who secured her first shutout of the post-season in the Game 1 victory.
The following night the Bisons had an opportunity to clinch the best-of-three series and take home their second conference title in three years.
Determined to fight their way back into the series, Alberta opened the scoring in Saturday’s game on a shorthanded goal from forward Lindsie Fairfield at 6:35 of the second period. Manitoba evened the score, however, when Bison Amy Lee scored a power-play goal with 13 seconds left in the period. Once again, Alberta poured on the shots in the third period, 14-2 in favour of the home team, but it was the Bisons who scored the go-ahead goal as Vestby notched her second of the weekend on a Manitoba power play.
With Manitoba up by a score of 2-1, Lacquette made sure to shut the door on any Alberta chances in the final five minutes, securing the victory and the Canada West championship for the visiting Bisons.
One oddity of the championship match, of the five goals scored throughout the series, not one was tallied while the teams were at even strength.
The conference title is the second in the program’s 14 year history.
Feb. 17-20 Kamloops hosted the Western Swimming Championship, the final event before the CIS national championship.
Bison Braeden Taylor made waves, earning three silver medals and setting a new provincial swim record in the men’s 200-metre breaststroke with a time of 2:13.70.
In the CIS national competition in Calgary, Feb. 24-26, Taylor earned a fifth place finish in the 50-metre breaststroke. In team standings, the Bison men’s team finished 15th overall with 44 points while the women’s team finished in the 18 spot with 19 points.
Early this month the men’s volleyball team faced off against rival Brandon in the Canada West quarter final round of the conference playoffs. Manitoba took the first game by a score of 3-2 (25-18, 20-25, 25-23, 21-25, 15-9), but the lower seeded Bobcats fought back to take the next meeting by the same score, 3-2 (21-25, 18-25, 25-22, 25-22, 13-15).
The final game of the best-of-three series saw Brandon defeat the Bisons 3-1 (25-27, 21-25, 25-21, 22-25), eliminating Manitoba from the conference playoffs.
The women’s volleyball team finished their season as the fifth seed in the Canada West playoffs, also matching up in the quarter final round with the Brandon Bobcats. The Bisons used a relentless attack to upend the higher seeded Bobcats with a two-game series sweep, powered by wins of 3-0 (25-14, 25-18, 25-22) and 3-1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 25-17).
Manitoba could not keep the momentum from the previous week, however, as the Bisons would go on to lose in their Canada West final four matchup against number one seed UBC, 3-0 (13-25, 24-26, 15-25). The following day, Feb. 26, Manitoba lost their bronze medal match against Alberta 3-1 (25-21, 17-25, 23-25, 22-25).