The skid continues for the U of M Bisons men’s hockey team. After being swept at home by the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend, the Bisons have now lost nine games in a row.
Despite a strong opening period, Manitoba fell 4-3 against the UBC Thunderbirds at home on Friday night.
“I thought we had a good start to the game and got that 1-0 lead,” head coach Mike Sirant said.
“Second period we didn’t have the jump that we normally would see from our team, […] and I thought we came out and played with a lot more jump and energy in the third period, and it was our best period in the third.”
The game started well for the home side, as Zach Franko opened the scoring for Manitoba in the first. Brett Brooks sent the puck from behind the goal to Franko and his shot from in tight went over Rylan Toth for the 1-0 Bisons lead.
Franko tore the monkey off his back in celebration. The goal was his first of the season.
“It felt long overdue,” Franko said. “I’ve had tons of chances this year, pretty good quality shots. Thankfully that one went in.”
In the second, after Matt Revel knotted the game at 1-1, Carter Popoff struck to give UBC the lead. Popoff chased down a loose puck in the slot, kicked it to his stick and snuck a shot by Byron Spriggs to make it 2-1 Thunderbirds.
Maxwell James stretched the margin to two early in the third, but Jonah Wasylak struck to cut the lead back to one. Then, with less than four minutes on the clock, Keaton Jameson tied the game.
Nick Zajac stripped Popoff at the Bisons blueline and burned through neutral ice. He sent a cross-ice pass to Jameson, who tipped home his first career Bisons goal.
“It was a great feeling,” Jameson said.
“Going into the game I kinda had a feeling I was going to get one today. I knew I was going to work a bit harder today and try and get that one out of the way so I can open the floodgates for the rest of the year.”
All hope was crushed less than a minute later, as Josh Connolly scored to win it for UBC, 4-3.
The losing streak for the Bisons stretched to nine games after a 4-3 loss in overtime Saturday.
The Bisons battled back to force overtime in the third after giving up three goals in the second period. But a bad bounce off a blocked shot in the extra frame sealed the team’s fate.
“That’s a hard one,” Sirant said.
“That’s a hard way to lose, in overtime, where we had some great scoring chances and we block a shot and it goes right on their guy’s stick and he scores.”
Manitoba struck first in the opening period on the powerplay. Jameson picked up the puck in the corner and sent a pass to Liam Bilton in the slot. Bilton snapped the puck low-blocker on Patrick Dea for the 1-0 Bisons lead.
Zajac added to the lead minutes later.
He levelled a UBC forechecker and pushed the puck up to a breaking Franko. Franko sent a pass back to Zajac who lifted a shot over Dea to give Manitoba a two-goal lead.
“That’s when a lot of my offence comes,” Zajac said. “When I’m physical and when I’m in the game.”
UBC rallied in the second, rattling off three unanswered to take the lead, 3-2. The first came 22 seconds into the frame from Tyler Sandhu, and then James notched back-to-back markers.
The Bisons tied the game back up at 3-3 in the third off the stick of Jeremy Leipsic. A pass from the half-wall was tipped in the slot by Dawson Martin to Leipsic, who blasted the puck by Dea.
“That felt good,” Leipsic said. “Obviously we knew we needed to draw even with them to have a chance in the third and Dwyer made a nice play […] and I was able to put it away.”
The heartbreak came in overtime, when Josh Connolly followed up on a blocked shot and ripped the puck top-corner to give UBC the 4-3 win.
The Bisons will be back on the road next week, in Saskatoon to take on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Game one is Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. CST, and game two is the next day at 7 p.m. CST.