The University of Manitoba Bison women’s hockey team made a huge statement over the weekend, grinding out two impressive wins over the CIS fourth-ranked UBC Thunderbirds. Manitoba never trailed in either game, holding the dangerous UBC scoring attack to just one goal in both games.
Friday’s matchup went to overtime, with the Bisons pulling out the 2-1 win, thanks to back-to-back penalties committed early in the extra session by UBC.
Regulation hockey featured a fast-paced, back and forth battle, with a total of just three penalties called.
Seventeen shots were fired between the two squads in the first period, with both Rachel Dyck and Samantha Langford standing their ground, keeping the game scoreless after 20.
Both teams kept the tempo up in the second frame, but Dyck and Langford stayed composed. Manitoba grabbed the momentum in the final minute, as captain Maggie Litchfield-Medd burst into the Thunderbirds zone, and was tripped up on a partial breakaway, leading to the first penalty of the game, which the Bisons carried into the third.
Manitoba made use of the power play, as Litchfield-Medd redirected an Erica Rieder shot into the back of the net, just a minute into the period.
The Thunderbirds stepped up the tempo after falling down by one. After hitting the goal post just over a minute after the Litchfield-Medd goal, they finally cracked the scoreboard at 6:48, when Kelly Murray deflected a Rebecca Unrau shot past Dyck to tie things up.
The Thunderbirds had a chance to steal the game from Manitoba with just under three minutes left, after Litchfield-Medd took a tripping penalty – the only infraction committed by the Bisons. Boasting the nation’s best power play unit, UBC was unable to get much going, as Manitoba successfully kept them to the outside, pushing the game to overtime.
The Thunderbirds took two quick penalties in extra time, and the Herd capitalized, with Alanna Sharman netting the game winner just 1:41 in.
Sharman is now tied for second in the CIS, with 10 goals on the year, and head coach Jon Rempel was quick to praise the rookie sensation.
“She’s a special player,” Rempel said. “You don’t get many players like her that have that kind of hockey sense, offensive ability, and ability to make others around her better. She doesn’t play like a first-year player.”
Saturday’s rematch featured another impressive showing from Dyck, who turned aside 28 of 29 shots in a 3-1 win.
Manitoba got two goals from another rookie, Courtlyn Oswald, as well as Jessica Rosenbaum, while UBC’s lone goal came off of the stick of Nicole Saxvik. Three of the game’s four goals occurred in a wild second period, where Manitoba outshot UBC 15-10.
The Thunderbirds had a few quality chances to tie the game in the middle stages of the second period, with Manitoba taking two separate trips to the sin bin; however, the Bison defence was yet again able to keep UBC from gaining many quality chances in tight. Overall through the two games, Manitoba held the visitors’ prolific power play off the board, going 0 for 7.
Up next for Manitoba is a crucial series with Alberta, as they come to town this weekend, Nov. 28 and 29, in the final games before the Christmas break Game times are 6:30 p.m. on Friday, and 1 p.m. on Saturday.