Another weekend series, another weekend split for the U of M Bisons men’s hockey team, as the club played host to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
The herd jumped out to an early lead in game one, claiming a win, but was swamped in game two for a loss.
Riley Lamb’s teammates should start calling him Riley “G.O.A.T.”
The rookie netminder was a brick wall Friday, turning aside 40 of 42 UBC shots to carry his team to a 5-2 win over the Thunderbirds.
Post-game Bisons head coach Mike Sirant lauded his goaltender for his performance between the pipes.
“He really kept us in there in the second period,” he said.
“Although we were ahead a few goals on the scoreboard, can’t overlook that [if] it wasn’t for him — particularly in that second period — that it would not have been a 5-2 game.”
Manitoba was heavily outshot in the second period 21-5 by UBC, but Lamb only let one goal through. He was similarly strong in the third, stopping 10 of the 11 shots he faced while Manitoba could only muster two.
Jonah Wasylak also gained praise from his coach in a game where he contributed on the scoresheet and on the ice.
The fifth-year forward had two assists, setting up the eventual game winner.
After Dylan Thiessen opened the scoring in the first with a power play marker, Wasylak helped the Bisons pick up a pair.
Keaton Jameson gained the zone for Manitoba and sent the puck to Wasylak streaking down the left side. Wasylak sent a saucer pass to Geordie Keane cutting through the slot, and the puck bounced off Keane and past Patrick Dea in the UBC crease to make it 2-0 Bisons.
“I thought [Wasylak] was one of our best players tonight,” Sirant said.
“It just started with his compete. He competed hard tonight and made a lot of good things happen […] some of the finer details of the game.”
Before the period was out, Wasylak created more offence for Manitoba, stealing the puck in tight off a misplay by Dea.
He circled behind the Thunderbirds goal and tossed a backhander to Adam Henry in the high slot. Henry ripped a shot through a crowd and past Dea for a 3-0 Bisons lead at the end of the first period.
“It was just kind of a broken play,” Henry said.
“I think their goalie mishandled it a little bit, and so whenever that happens I think that a team is a little bit out of sorts.
“I just kind of found a soft spot in the middle of the ice. I don’t know if [Wasylak] actually saw me or if he just threw it blind, but put it right on my tape […] I was able to pick the corner and put it home.”
The fifth-year defender kept a strong offensive showing going in the second period.
On a Bisons power play, Devon Skoleski corralled the puck and fed Henry who found open space in the slot. He picked the top corner again on Dea to make it 4-0 Manitoba before UBC finally got on the board.
Carter Popoff struck late in the second period and Tyler Sandhu scored early in the third to cut the Manitoba lead to two, but Matthew Stanley iced the game with an empty-netter.
The goal was Stanley’s first career U Sports goal and gave the Bisons a 5-2 win.
Game two of the weekend had a less favourable result for Manitoba as it was outshot again, this time in a 3-1 loss to UBC.
It was an important night for Manitoba’s Tony Apetagon who notched his first career goal in the loss.
After Austin Glover scored early in the second to give UBC a 1-0 lead, Apetagon struck for Manitoba to tie it. Stanley got the play started, levelling Popoff in open ice to knock the puck loose.
Nathan Halvorsen picked up the loose rubber and found Apetagon streaking into the Thunderbirds zone.
Apetagon flipped the puck to his backhand and picked the corner on Rylan Toth in the UBC goal to tie the game 1-1.
Austin Vetterl spoiled the fun seconds later, slipping coverage in the slot, picking up a pass and roofing a shot on Jeremy Link to give UBC back the lead.
Vetterl picked up an insurance marker for the Thunderbirds in the final minute, giving his side the 3-1 win.
The Bisons will be back on the ice Nov. 8 and 9 in Regina to take on the University of Regina Cougars. Game one starts at 7 p.m. CDT and game two at 3 p.m. CDT.