The U of M Bisons lost to the Mount Royal University Cougars 4-1 Saturday — but may have lost something more important in the process.
Winger Zach Franko fell awkwardly after a hit in the opening period and left the game. Manitoba’s leading scorer was in a sling post-game and appeared to suffer a shoulder injury.
“Zach’s been playing really well, some of the best hockey of his Bison career,” Bisons head coach Mike Sirant said.
“That’s a real tough break for him and for the team to have him go out with an injury right now. I haven’t received an update yet but let’s hope it’s not too serious or that he’s not out too long.”
Unlike Friday night where Manitoba was put in an early 2-0 hole, the Bisons got out to a strong first period thanks to a Liam Bilton goal.
Brett Brooks carried the puck from the corner and lost it in a crowd. Bilton picked up the loose puck in the slot, spun and fired, beating Riley Morris low blocker for the 1-0 lead.
Mount Royal came back the other way and appeared to tie it up moments later. While the Cougars were crashing the net on a two-on-one, a Bisons player was pushed into Byron Spriggs.
Austin Adamson picked the corner while Spriggs was down. But after a conference by the referees the goal was waved off.
Late in the first period there were multiple tense moments for an injury-riddled Bisons squad. Spriggs was involved in another collision and Jonah Wasylak was boarded. Both remained in the game.
Along with those was the injury to Franko.
The bad luck continued into the second for the Bisons.
A dump-in bounced off the stantion and into the slot for David Stephens. His shot was stopped, but Connor Chartier’s off the rebound was not, as he snapped one by Spriggs to tie the game 1-1.
Adamson scored late in the frame to give Mount Royal a 2-1 lead heading into the third. Then Chris Gerrie and David Stephens added third period markers to ice the 4-1 win.
Manitoba has now lost six straight to Mount Royal, stretching back to the 2018 playoffs. Mount Royal, meanwhile, clinched a playoff spot with the win.
“They’re a good team, they work hard,” Sirant said. “They play a full 60-minute game and that’s not what we’re at yet.”
The Bisons will be on the road next week to visit the University of Regina Cougars. Puckdrop for game one is 7 p.m. CST on Jan. 18 and at 3 p.m. CST for game two the next day.