Titans collided this weekend at Wayne Fleming Arena, as the fourth-ranked University of Manitoba Bisons took on the second-ranked UBC Thunderbirds in women’s hockey. The two sides traded chances all weekend, with the Bisons closing out their first-half schedule with a split.
UBC had a tough test entering the weekend, taking on the Canada West leading Bisons, who were on a nine-game winning streak and owned a 5-1 record on home ice. The home team battled hard, but were unable to the UBC goaltender Tory Micklash, losing 3-0 on Friday night.
The two sides traded chances throughout the first period, but it was the visitors getting on the board first. During a UBC powerplay, Brielle Bellerive tipped a point shot on goal, swiping the puck down low. The puck snuck under the pad of Bisons goaltender Lauren Taraschuk to give UBC the lead.
The Bisons pressured the Thunderbirds hard, throwing as much rubber on goal as possible throughout the game. Micklash stood tall for her team, while Emily Costales and Celine Tardif added empty-netters to seal the game 3-0 for UBC.
The tale of the game one was Manitoba’s anemic powerplay, which was unable to convert, going 0-for-6 during the game.
“I didn’t think we made the right adjustments on the powerplay,” said Bison head coach Jon Rempel. “I thought the powerplay was too deliberate today, sort of took our time too much instead of moving the puck with speed and efficiency like we have been all year.”
The herd and T-Birds were back on the ice for a Saturday matinee and it was the Bisons who prevailed in overtime by a score of 2-1.
The Bison powerplay finally got rolling in the second game of the weekend, with a Lauren Warkentin marker in the first period. Erica Rieder powered a shot on goal from the point, which Micklash was able to keep out. The rebound popped out to the left side of the goal where Warkentin was waiting to put the Bisons up 1-0.
UBC came storming back, tying the game before the first period was out. On a powerplay chance, Hannah Clayton-Carroll’s shot was stopped by Rachel Dyck of the Bisons. The puck flew up and was lost before it came down and bounced into the goal, knotting the game at one.
The score held for the rest of regulation, with the two powerhouse squads needing overtime to settle things. In the extra frame, Venla Hovi ended the game with a powerplay marker.
Alanna Sharman moved the puck from the left faceoff dot to Hovi waiting just beyond the high slot. She snagged the pass and blasted a shot top-corner on Micklash, sealing the game for the Bisons.
“It felt really good,” Hovi said, all smiles post-game. “I think we deserved to win today, we had so many opportunities, I was like ‘We are not going to get past this without getting just those two points.’ It felt really good, we deserved it.”
The goal was extra sweet for Hovi, as she awaits word from Team Finland about a chance to suit up for the Finnish national team..
The win puts the Bisons 10-1-0-0 in their last 11 games, and they enter the holiday break still clinging to first-place in Canada West.
Manitoba will be back on the ice Jan. 5-6 when they head to Edmonton for a weekend series against the University of Alberta Pandas.