The U of M Bisons women’s hockey team seem to have forgotten the holiday break is over.
Manitoba was outpaced through 40 minutes, and a third period comeback bid fell short in a 3-2 defeat at home by the University of Alberta Pandas.
Alberta won foot races and harassed the Bisons on the forecheck, with an especially potent penalty killing performance pushing Manitoba back into its own zone.
Alanna Sharman made her season debut for the herd. The senior had been out since the preseason after suffering a lower-body injury.
In her return to the lineup, Sharman showed no signs of rust. Early in the first, she chased a Pandas defender deep into the Alberta zone, stripped her of the puck and walked out in front.
Sharman was stopped by Kirsten Chamberlin on the try and proceeded to overpower another Pandas player to keep the play going.
“It was fun. Obviously not the outcome we wanted but nice to get my legs under me and start playing some powerplay [and] penalty kill, get the feel of that,” Sharman said.
With a scoreless first 20 minutes, Alberta got on the board first in the second period.
On the powerplay, Cayle Dillon hammered a point shot on goal that was tipped in front by Kennedy Ganser. The puck deflected past the right skate of Lauren Taraschuk for the 1-0 Pandas lead.
The man advantage paid dividends for the Pandas again minutes later as Kelsey Tangjerd scored to make it 2-0 Alberta.
With an Autumn MacDougall goal late in the frame the Pandas led 3-0 after 40 minutes.
The Bisons looked slow and tepid heading into the second intermission, but came out for the third period with fire.
Alexandra Anderson finally put Manitoba on the scoresheet on the powerplay. The defender stepped into a heavy shot, blowing the puck by Chamberlin to cut the Pandas lead to two.
Sharman picked up her first point of the season on the play.
“Me and [Taraschuk] — our goalie — had a little competition,” Sharman said.
“She liked to say that she had more points than me in the first half. So when I got that assist I knew I was the third pass on that, so as soon as we scored I went up to her and gave her a fist-pound.
“She was serious, into the game, and I said ‘Hey Chuck we’re tied’ and she gave me a little smirk.”
Manitoba had more luck on the powerplay thanks to Lauryn Keen. Jenai Buchanan at the point found Keen in the faceoff dot, and she went roof on Chamberlin to make it 3-2 Alberta.
The Bisons will look for revenge today against the Pandas at Wayne Fleming Arena. Puckdrop is at 2 p.m. CST.