Although it is not the finals they wanted, the U of M Bisons women’s hockey team is headed to the consolation finals of the 2019 U Sports national women’s hockey championship after a 3-1 win over the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers.
“Only three buses are leaving this island [as] a happy bus and we want to be one of them,” Bisons interim head coach Sean Fisher said.
Like in the game against the University of Guelph, Lauren Taraschuk had a lot of visitors in her kitchen. UPEI crashed the net and got involved in plenty of extracurricular activity with the Bisons to make life difficult for the Manitoba netminder.
At the other end of the ice Alexandra Anderson was repeatedly victimized by punishing hits by the Panthers, and the Bisons were stymied on all powerplay opportunities. The Panthers blocked shots and cleared the front of the net, keeping the Bisons at bay in front of Camille Scherger.
Anderson suffered a shoulder injury in Manitoba’s Canada West playoff series and was given clearance to play Saturday.
“Games are always physical,” she said.
“You always get a weird hit […] sometimes you need that breather and it gets you angry, gets you going even more.”
The Panthers opened the scoring in the second, but not without incident.
UPEI gained the zone, Faith Steeves got the puck to Taylor Gillis and drove toward the goal. Steeves drove Buchanan into Taraschuk, taking her out of the play as Gillis put the puck in the yawning cage.
The Pathers faithful erupted, the Bisons fans hollered for a no-goal call but when the dust settled UPEI was up 1-0.
Alanna Sharman then put the Bisons on her back again to tie things up.
Carrying the puck behind the Panthers goal, Sharman stopped up, crossed back and looked to throw the puck into the slot. Instead, she banked the puck off the back of Scherger and in to make it 1-1 in the second.
More controversy followed, as after a shot, Jolena Gillard of UPEI drove to the net and speared Taraschuk in the chest. Gillard was given a slashing penalty on the play and Taraschuk was incensed.
“Yeah she was under siege there,” Fisher said.
“They’re a big strong physical team and they go hard to the net. But she was a gamer, she probably wasn’t too happy with the result over the last three games […] Super happy for her.”
Manitoba weathered the storm of UPEI’s physicality until the third, when Alexandra Anderson got the Bisons their first lead of the tournament.
Anderson picked up the puck at the point, walked in and sent a shot on goal. The puck hit two Panthers defenders and past Scherger for the 2-1 Bisons lead.
Then with seven minutes left, the Special K line went to work.
Lauryn Keen fed Karissa Kirkup, who put a shot on goal. Scherger made the initial stop, stretching out to make the save and leaving herself out of position. Natasha Kostenko followed up the play and snapped the puck in for the 3-1 Bisons win.
“After getting a bunch of shots — a lot of help from my teammates giving me great passes — I really needed to bury that one for my linemates […] but for myself,” Kostenko said.
The Bisons will be back on the ice tomorrow for the consolation finals. Puckdrop is at 9 a.m. CDT, and you can catch the game live on 101.5 UMFM.