Putting them on the ropes

Keen, Kirkup, Kostenko trio helps Bisons take 1-0 series lead over UBC

The Special K line of Lauryn Keen, Natasha Kostenko and Karissa Kirkup was instrumental in Manitoba's 4-3 over the UBC Thunderbirds Feb. 23

Special K is the cereal you eat when you are trying to be healthy — but for the U of M Bisons women’s hockey team it was sweet as can be in a 4-3 win over the UBC Thunderbirds Friday.

The aptly-named Special K line of Karissa Kirkup, Lauryn Keen and Natasha Kostenko combined for three points in the game. The trio was also instrumental in keeping the Bisons in the game.

“They’re puck possession monsters and it’s really tough to get the puck from them once they have it,” Bisons interim head coach Sean Fisher said.

“They draw a lot of penalties, they play the game the right way. If you look how they scored some of those goals — they play the right way.”

After UBC made it 1-0 in the first, the herd regrouped during the intermission and the Special K line went to work.

Just seconds into the middle frame, Keen skated down the right-side wall in the UBC zone. She fired a shot from an awkward angle, beating Tory Micklash to tie the game 1-1.

A few minutes later, Kirkup did it all by herself.

“I knew they were coming hard on the forecheck there and I tried to backcheck — obviously caused a little turnover,” Kirkup said.

“I noticed them changing and tried to take advantage, tried to get a couple shots.”

Kirkup’s initial shot was stopped, but she snagged the rebound and roofed the puck on Micklash for the 2-1 Bisons lead.

Just as things were swinging Manitoba’s way, a throwaway shot went off Jenai Buchanan’s foot in the slot and past Lauren Taraschuk, tying the game heading into the third.

Then, in the final frame, after a UBC player covered the puck in the crease, Alanna Sharman scored for the Bisons on a penalty shot.

Sharman walked in, made Micklash bite with a fake shot and went forehand-backhand to make it 3-2 Bisons.

Sharman said Micklash “was not giving me the shot, so it was just a reflex to take it to my backhand when she came out that far.”

The Thunderbirds came right back down the ice and tied the game up on the powerplay, setting up some late game heroics from Lauren Warkentin.

After an apparent Bisons game winner was waved off, Warkentin entered the UBC zone and took a long shot from the high circle. The puck glanced off the top of Micklash’s glove and floated in, giving the Bisons the 4-3 win.

Manitoba is now one win away from booking a ticket back to both the Canada West finals and the U Sports national championship.

“We’re an unreal team,” Bisons captain Erica Rieder said.

“I said that before the game — before we came out ‘we’re an unreal team.’ We know how to get it done and we never stop working.”

The Bisons will look to close out the series against UBC tonight at Wayne Fleming Arena. Puckdrop is at 7 p.m. CST.