Women’s hockey emphatically ends pre-season schedule
Bisons win 6-0 in final exhibition game of the season

Jena Barscello fires a wrist shot past Flames goalie Jordyn Espenell.

The Bisons women’s hockey team rounded out its exhibition schedule Sunday afternoon with a win against the St. Mary’s Academy (SMA) Flames Prep hockey team.

In the first period, the Flames quickly came out strong by getting onto the powerplay and firing a couple shots at the U of M net. However, the Bisons would not be phased, killing off the penalty and going on the attack. Generating pressure down low, Kate Gregoire would slip one past Flames goalie Jordyn Espenell. Espenell would continue to be busy, as the Bisons put up 14 shots in the period. With two and a half minutes left in the frame, Bisons defenceman Hanna Bailey would float a shot from the ringette line over the shoulder of a screened Espenell to put the Bisons up 2-0.

In the second, Bailey would continue helping the Bisons on the offensive end. Early on in the period, Bailey would find second-year forward Molly Kunnas in front, where she would tuck a quick feed shortside.

Halfway through the frame, SMA switched goalies, bringing J’Anne Colbow into the Flames’ net, where she would immediately be peppered by Bison forwards. Gregoire would bring the bulk of the offence for the Bisons. The St. Mary’s graduate had more than five glorious chances in front for the Bisons before finally burying a Katie Chatyrbok centring pass top shelf.

The Bisons would continue to add to the scoreboard in the third, as Jena Barscello would make it 5-0, firing from the slot, and 6-0 thanks to a Megan Neduzak tip in front. The Flames would fail to generate any offence for the rest of the game, being shutout by U of M goalie Emily Shippam and the rest of the Bisons.

Thanks to her two goals and consistent offence applied to the Flames’ net, Gregoire was awarded first star of the game. Gregoire and the rest of the Bison forwards dominated the Flames’ zone, helping keep the puck in their end, preventing any attack on the Bison goal.

Bisons goalie Kimberley Davidson was impressed with how her team performed. The Kamloops, B.C. native is excited to get her U-Sports career started after her first year was put on hold due to the pandemic.

“It feels so good to be back,” said Davidson.

“I’m in my second year and, you know, last year because of COVID we didn’t really get a first year, so it’s good to be back and full throttle for the season.

“I think they’re looking really sharp, really fresh. [We] got some good plays going and I think we’re going to look good for the season.”

This year’s edition of the women’s hockey team has looked promising throughout the preseason. The Bisons won a three-game series 2-1 against the Team Manitoba female hockey team, a group comprised of the best female players in the province under the age of 18.

The Bisons’ next matchup saw the herd play a two-game weekend series against the University of Regina Cougars in Russel, Man., where they won both games 3-1.

Bisons head coach Jon Rempel has been happy with his team’s progression throughout the preseason.

“Team [Manitoba] is a lot of young kids that can really skate, so I thought we controlled the play for most of that weekend,” Rempel said.

“We had one off period in the second period of game two where we kind of got away from things that we had been doing, but even that game we controlled a lot of the play. I liked a lot of the things I saw for the first game action in, you know, 16, 17, 18 [or] 19 months for some of our players.

“I thought some of the things we had done in practice were showing up. Transition play was very good, exits [and] entries very good. That’s a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on, some offensive zone concepts, really good, too. The physicality wasn’t really where I wanted it [to be], but I think that was getting better by the end of the weekend.”

Leading up to their first Canada West competition in two years, Rempel is confident in his group and will be looking forward to seeing them step up and become one of toughest teams to play against in Canada West.

“I think we did a really, really good job of recruiting,” Rempel said.

“We’ve really solidified our depth, we’ve solidified our ability to create healthy competition in our lineup. We’ve gotten bigger, I think we’ve gotten way stronger, I think we play way more aggressively than a couple of years ago, for sure.”

“I think we’ve had a good start and I think we’re learning and we’re growing as a group and there’s some things happening. We had a long way to go, but coming out of a situation like everyone’s coming out of, I think anything is on the table and I see us as having some opportunities to do some things and to put some teams on their heels a little bit.”

“I think teams are going to have trouble playing against us this year. I do really firmly believe that.”

The Bisons open the Canada West season Oct. 15 at home against the University of Calgary Dinos.