This weekend, the fifth-ranked University of Manitoba women’s hockey team played host to the Saskatchewan Huskies for their last regular season home series. The Bisons blanked the Huskies 3-0 on Friday and won the rematch 3-1 on Saturday.
The playoff-bound Bisons were back at Wayne Fleming Arena Friday night, beginning their last home series of the regular season against the Huskies. The herd dominated the possession game, helping Rachel Dyck secure the 3-0 shutout win.
Second year winger Jordyn Zacharias opened the scoring early in the first. Lauryn Keen came streaking down the left sideboards and chipped a pass to Zacharias. She went forehand, backhand, and placed a shot above the pad of Huskies netminder Cassidy Hendricks to make it 1-0 Manitoba.
In the opening moments of the second period, the Bisons extended their lead. Defenseman Megan Neduzak rifled a one-timer top corner and over the glove of Hendricks.
Winger Venla Hovi picked up her second assist of the night moments later, helping Zacharias pot her second goal. Hovi gave the puck to Zacharias, who fought off a defender to get in close. She placed a backhander short side on Hendricks to make it 3-0 Bisons.
Dyck turned away all 24 shots she faced, while Keen picked up three assists and Hovi snagged two in the 3-0 win.
Manitoba was without key contributors Erica Reider and Alanna Sharman, who are off with Team Canada at the 2017 FISU Games in Kazakhstan. However, a few players have elevated their game in their absence.
“It’s an opportunity for different players to get some opportunities and trying to get more players a few more minutes as we head in to playoffs,” Bisons head coach Jon Rempel said postgame. “We have to play a team game regardless if those two are in the lineup or not and other people are doing what they need to do here.”
Saturday marked the final home game of the regular season for the Bisons, as they looked for a sweep against the Huskies. The two teams battled it out, playing a physical game where the Bisons were able to come out on top 3-1.
Manitoba got out front early on the power play. Centre Karissa Kirkup took the puck from defenseman Caitlin Fyten, sending it cross-ice to winger Sheridan Oswald at the left faceoff dot. Oswald rifled a shot low under the blocker of Hendricks for the 1-0 Bisons lead.
Zacharias extended the lead to two in the final minute of the first. A mad scramble ensued in front of the Huskies goal and Keen popped the puck over to Zacharias who potted her 10th of the season.
Saskatchewan came storming back in the opening minutes of the second. Rachel Lundberg got the puck up to Kori Herner and took off like a rocket on a breakaway. Herner put a laser top shelf on Dyck to cut the lead in half.
Hovi did get on the score sheet in the third, assisting on a goal by Keen. The Bisons came into the zone, 3-on-2, and Hovi threw a backhand pass through a crowd. Keen picked it up on the other side of the goal, banging it home.
The Huskies threw everything they could at the home team, but it wasn’t enough as the Bisons took the game and the weekend series 3-1. Dyck made 24 saves for the Bisons, earning her Canada West-leading 15th win.
“Solid, you only give up one goal against a good hockey team that can play and has good players and is well coached, that gives your team confidence,” Rempel said of his team’s work during the weekend. “To know we can play different types of games, play defensive, and lock teams down will be important for us going forward.”
The Bisons head out to Edmonton to wrap up their regular season against the University of Alberta Pandas on Feb. 10-11.