The U of M Bisons women’s hockey team picked one of the best ways to remind the rest of Canada West that it is still here. Facing the first-place University of Calgary Dinos, the Bisons pulled off a weekend split, sending the Dinos home reeling.
The score may have been 3-1 Dinos Friday but, without Amanda Schubert in net, it could have been even worse for the Bisons.
The fifth-year goalie was tested early and often, tending the twine under a 27-shot onslaught by the Dinos. But that was not on Schubert’s mind post-game — she only cared about what happened at the other end of the ice.
“I think it’s there,” Schubert said.
“Obviously, tonight we had a bit of a rough start, but if you look at our games there [are] so many one-goal games […] We just can’t put the puck in the net.”
Schubert added she felt the Bisons are “just not getting the bounces” but are playing hard and have improved from the start of the season.
As for Friday’s action, Schubert was under siege in the opening period, but held the fort until Delaney Frey opened the scoring for the U of C.
With just over three minutes left in the first, a shot from the left faceoff circle hit a crowd and was fired on goal. Schubert made the initial stop, but Frey was on the doorstep to pick up the loose puck.
A backhand flick was enough to put the biscuit in the basket for a 1-0 U of C lead.
Frey’s shot was one of 13 Schubert faced in the opening frame, while the U of M could only muster two in response. Schubert faced just eight more in the second, but the Dinos only needed one to extend the lead to two.
Holly Reuther picked up the puck beside the net and walked out in front, stretching out to make Schubert move. The long reach paid off, as she slid the puck past the veteran netminder and the Bisons had a 2-0 deficit heading into the third.
This deficit did not last long.
Sheridan Oswald fought off a checking Dinos defender and got a touch pass over to Samantha Sichkaruk. The Bisons rookie got hold of the puck and lifted it past Gabrielle Durante in the U of C crease.
“Honestly, I didn’t think [the puck] was getting through but I just drove it to the net,” Sichkaruk said.
The goal was the first of her U Sports career and made it 2-1 Dinos late.
The U of M was unable to capture any momentum off the goal and Taylor Beck added an empty-netter for the 3-1 Dinos win.
It was a night for veteran performers Saturday, as a pair of long-time Bisons got on the board in a 2-1 win over the U of C. Megan Neduzak opened the scoring, while Jordyn Zacharias had the winner to stun the surging Dinos.
Bisons head coach Jon Rempel was happy with the performance of his veteran players over the weekend, especially as the team develops new, younger talent.
“If they’re not going, it’s very hard to impress upon the other kids that they have to go and play a certain style,” Rempel said.
“Part of the thing this year has been trying to sell how we’ve had to change our game from the last few years when we were loaded full of […] fourth- and fifth-year players who I didn’t have to motivate.”
The U of M looked great early in the first, causing havoc in the Dinos defensive zone and getting pucks through to the home-plate area in front of Durante.
The only thing stopping the herd from capitalizing was Durante pouncing on pucks and Dinos defenders tying up Bisons sticks.
The Dinos defence could only last so long, as Neduzak opened the scoring with a rocket.
The puck went down low behind the Dinos net, with Molly Kunnas in pursuit.
The Thunder Bay-born forward flipped the puck to Neduzak cutting in from the slot, and she unleashed a one-time snapper that blew past the left foot of Durante.
The goal gave the U of M its first lead of the weekend at 1-0, but Annaliese Meier roofed a shot on Erin Fargey late in the first to kill all U of M momentum.
The Meier goal gave the U of C a boost and in the second the Dinos crashed the net, drawing the ire — and a few healthy whacks — from Fargey. The Alberta-born netminder stood tall in the Bisons crease and kept the game tied while her team struggled to get the puck out of the defensive zone.
The two clubs remained tied through 40 minutes, and in the third period the Bisons looked to steal the win.
With two Dinos in the box, Zacharias took a pass below the goal line and walked in front. She ripped a laser over the shoulder of Durante to get the U of M back out in front at 2-1.
“In our time out before we kind of just talked about keeping it simple,” she said.
“Taking that step out or just stuffing it in — I was trying to shoot the far pad […] but it just happened to go in, so it worked out.”
The U of C rallied with a late power play, but even with the goalie out could not find the equalizer as the U of M held on for the win.
The Bisons will remain at home, taking the ice again next weekend to face the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Jan. 17 and 18. Puck drop for game one is 7 p.m. CST and 2 p.m. CST for game two.