The University of Manitoba Bison women’s hockey team was back at home this weekend for their regular season finale against the University of Calgary Dinos.
The home team beat up on their competition, sweeping the final series of the regular season.
The Bisons finished the regular season with a 19-5-3-1 record and will enter the Canada West playoffs as the top seeded team. Manitoba receives a bye to the semifinals and will await the results of the quarter finals to learn their opponent. The semifinals will be a best-of-three series at Wayne Fleming Arena on Feb. 23-25.
Entering Friday’s action, the Bisons had a chance to clinch first in Canada West and ensure home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The herd dominated their opponents, walking away with a 6-0 win.
The two sides battled hard in the first, and when it looked like the period would end in a draw, Caitlyn Fyten lit the lamp. Dinos goalie Kelsey Roberts made a stop and a scrum ensued in the slot, but the puck squeaked out to a waiting Fyten, whose shot weaved through the crowd, and went low-blocker.
In the second, following a goal by Jenai Buchanan, Lauryn Keen did it all by herself. The Manitou-born centre broke in, toe-dragged a Dinos defender and rifled a shot that made both posts sing as it went in.
Manitoba went on to add goals by Nicole Carswell, Alana Serhan, and Natasha Kostenko. The home side shelled Roberts all night, putting up 30 shots to Calgary’s eight.
With the win, the Bisons clinched first place and became Canada West regular season champions for the first time in the program’s history.
“We’ve been close a few times and we’ve gone down to the wire a few times, and really haven’t ever been able to close the deal,” said Bison head coach Jon Rempel.
“I thought this year we approached things well in the second half and it paid off when we got through all the top teams.”
With a playoff berth locked down, the Bisons turned to celebrate their graduating players on Saturday. The Bisons were equally dominant, but Roberts held the fort for the Dinos, keeping Manitoba to a 1 -0 win.
The lone goal for the Bisons came from Jordyn Zacharias in the third period. She broke into the Dinos zone, side-stepped to make room, and placed a wrister short side on Roberts.
In her final regular season start as a Bison, Rachel Dyck made eight saves and recorded the 15th shutout of her U SPORTS career. In the Dinos crease, Roberts made 37 saves on 38 shots.
“It was pretty cool,” Dyck said. “It was a bit tighter game than yesterday but I felt good in the net and wanted to end on a high note.”
Despite the closer score, Rempel was beaming after his team swept the final weekend.
“I thought that was a really complete game,” he said.
“I thought with not much to play for other than some team goals we set for the game I thought we stuck with it, I thought we were consistent through three periods.”
Speaking on his graduating players, Rempel expressed a similar sentiment.
“Just good efforts, it’s what they’ve done in all five years basically,” he said.
“Honest effort every day and good leadership skills, and I just thought we sent a message to whoever comes in here in two weeks that they’re going to have a tough go at it, and that’s really what we wanted to accomplish.”