Bizarre night in women’s hockey

“It’s a very strange situation. It’s probably without precedent in hockey, as far as I know.”

This statement came from Bison women’s hockey head coach Jon Rempel, as he tried to explain to reporters why there were five points up for grabs this past weekend as the Bisons fought for playoff home ice advantage, hosting the Calgary Dinos Friday and Saturday evening.

The fifth point is up for grabs after Dinos’ head coach Danielle Goyette protested Bison Becca King’s game-clinching shootout goal in a 3-2 Bison victory back on Nov. 12, 2010. The issue came down to whether or not Calgary goaltender Jennifer Mallard poke checked the puck as Becca skated in for her attempt before the puck was shot into the net.

Even though the referee had initially ruled it a clean goal, the coach’s protest was upheld and the conclusion of the shootout was to take place just before Friday night’s game. Due to the fact that in the prior game Manitoba got only two shots to Calgary’s three, the Bisons would get an opportunity to score and win the game with their third shot. If the Manitoba shooter failed to score, the shootout was to continue under sudden-death shootout rules.

The Bison team was forced to wait around on their bench as the Dinos took their sweet time getting out of the dressing room, delaying the start of the game by almost fifteen minutes. When they finally made their way to the ice, the rink announcer explained the situation and the conclusion to the Nov. 12 shootout began. Tammy Brade was chosen to take Manitoba’s third shot, but her shot sailed wide. Erika Mitschke took Calgary’s first shot of the night, but her backhand shot went wide as well, giving the Bisons another chance to secure the extra point in the standings.

The next Bison shooter would be Becca King, who would be in a unique situation to score two game winning goals in the same contest. When asked by the media earlier in the week whether she thought the protested goal was good or not, she affirmed her belief that the Calgary goalie never touched the puck and that in her mind it was a clean goal. Regardless of whether or not the wrong call was ultimately made, King had an opportunity to finish the game with some poetic justice. King skated in, looking for the net but Calgary goaltender Jennifer Mallard laid out and made a sprawling save.

With their next shot, Calgary scored, putting pressure on Bison’s next shooter Nellie Minshull to tie things up or concede the win to the Dinos. Minshull easily lifted the puck over the downed Calgary goalie with a nice backhand, tying the game and receiving a loud cheer from the Bison fans in attendance.

With Calgary’s next shot, Bison goaltender Tara Lacquette seemed to stop the puck, but it managed to trickle through her five-hole as the Dinos were poised to finally put the game away. Manitoba missed their opportunity to keep the shootout going with their next shot, so after nearly three months of waiting, the final result for the Nov.12, 2010 game between the Manitoba Bisons and the Calgary Dinos was a Calgary win. The Bisons received one point for the shootout loss.

With the Nov. 12 fiasco finally put to rest, the two teams still had a game to play. Despite getting three opportunities on the power play and outshooting the Dinos 9-6 in the first period, the Bisons found themselves down 1-0 after Calgary cashed in on their second power play of the game, scoring a quick wraparound goal at 13:12. The Bisons power play performance would continue to falter throughout the second period; despite going on the power play seven times, Manitoba would only manage to capitalize in the final minute of the period as Caitlin MacDonald scored the game-tying goal with a well-timed backhand shot.

After both the third period and overtime failed to produce a game winner, players once again prepared themselves for a one-on-one contest. In a bizarre twist, for the second time in the same evening, the Bisons and the Dinos found themselves in a shootout situation.

After being stripped of their first shootout victory, the Bisons had an opportunity to exact some revenge, but unfortunately it just wasn’t their night. The Bisons would fail to score on all three of their shots while Calgary’s Tanya Morgan notched her second shootout goal of the night, both game winners. It was a spectacular achievement for Morgan and a disappointing way to cap off the night for the Bisons.

The following night, Manitoba would bounce back, shutting out Calgary 2-0 and earning a total of three points from their five-point weekend.

Before the start of the second game, Manitoba honoured five players participating in their last regular season home game as Bisons. Amy Coates, Becca King, Tammy Brade, Kacey Funk and Chelsea Braun were joined on the ice by their parents and coach Rempel to celebrate their final year with the Manitoba Bisons.