With two days of practice in the books, the No. 1 seeded University of Manitoba Bisons and No. 8 seeded Queen’s University Gaels came together for their quarter final match at the U SPORTS National Championship.
Manitoba out-skated Queen’s and had the puck on a string all game, pummelling the Gaels 4-0.
The top team in the nation came out swinging in the first, controlling the possession game and setting the pace. Queen’s was unable to get much sustained pressure and it got the best of them early.
Alana Serhan picked up the puck on the half wall, turned, and ripped a shot on goal. The puck bounced off Courtlyn Oswald’s leg in front and past Stephanie Pascal for the 1-0 Bisons lead.
“My linemate kind of did most of the work and it kind of just hit me and went in,” Oswald said postgame. “Just right place right time I guess.”
The Bisons continued to push the pace in the second, and were rewarded on the powerplay. Alanna Sharman carried the puck out of the corner and through the left faceoff dot, side-stepping to make room and sent one short-side on the Gael’s netminder for a 2-0 Manitoba lead.
“I haven’t scored in the second half of this whole season,” Sharman said. “So it felt really good, I mean I love being a part of plays and being a part of anybody scoring on my team, but it definitely was a little monkey off the back for that one.”
The herd followed this up with a goal by defender Alexandra Anderson. Sharman stepped off the wall just past the faceoff circle and hammered a shot on goal. Anderson got a piece and deflected it top-shelf on Pascal to stretch the Bisons lead to three.
Then on the next play after Sharman grabbed a helper, she was checked to the ice and the Bisons capitalized on the powerplay.
A faceoff win in the Gael’s end drew all pressure towards the point, allowing Lauryn Keen to slip coverage and set up backdoor on Pascal. Lauren Warkentin sent a pass right to her tape and Keen banged it home to give the herd a 4-0 lead.
“It’s kind of right place right time,” Keen said. “We were talking about it in the dressing room after, it’s kind of ‘puck comes at a weird angle, you’ve just got to more or less shovel it in there.’”
Despite extended pressure in the final six minutes at six-on-five, the Gaels were unable to recover, and the Bisons took their opening game with a shutout win.
The key to the game for the Bisons – according to head coach Jon Rempel – was zone transitions and puck possession.
“Puck possession was clearly in our favour today,” he said.
“Started with face-offs – face-offs were 27-11, I think, so it starts there for us. And you know when you have D that can transition the puck like we do it’s hard for other teams to gain offensive zone presence and gain puck possession from us. So I thought we did a good job.”
The Bisons power play went two for three on the night against the top ranked penalty-kill in Queen’s. For Rempel however, the stats do not matter in cross-conference play.
“I actually didn’t know that stat,” Rempel said.
“Stats are misleading. I mean you know yeah stats are stats. There are some things you can take out of it but I actually never looked at their special team numbers so I didn’t even know that, but I don’t know it’s just the game we play and whatever it is it is.”
The Bisons will now play the Concordia University Stingers in the semifinals, on Saturday at 6:00 p.m.. Games can be streamed live on 101.5 UMFM.