Cougars rout Bisons 7-1 to earn Canada West semifinals berth

Cougars rout Bisons 7-1 to earn Canada West semifinals berth

Brendan Stasiewich, Mount Royal Sports Information 

CALGARY- The Mount Royal Cougars booked their ticket to the semifinals of the Canada West playoffs on Sunday night, knocking off the Manitoba Bisons 7-1 at the Flames Community Arenas. 
The Cougars got goals from a plethora of players in the must-win game. Matthew Brown, Jesse Lees, Colton Waltz, Tanner Olstad, Connor Rankin, Maddison Smiley and Luke Simpson all scored for the Cougars, while Brett Stovin scored the lone Bisons marker. 

Both Olstad and Brown stood out as difference makers in the contest. Brown's effort on both sides of the ice couldn't be matched while Olstad's three points, including an assist on the game winning goal, to help extend the Cougars' season. 

Cam Lanigan came up huge early in the game for the Cougars. After a turnover behind their own net, a Bison found themselves in alone against the Cougars' netminder. Lanigan came out of the net to take away the angle, stopping the puck with his right shoulder to keep the game scoreless.  

The Bisons would open the scoring at the 8:09 mark of the first period. After a delayed penalty call on Jamie King, Brad Bowles skated the puck up ice and sent a beautiful saucer pass across the crease to Brett Stovin, who tapped the puck past Lanigan. 

Brown answered just two minutes later. After a shot was blocked in front, Brown fought through a Bisons' defenseman and took the puck with his back facing the net. Brown spun to his left, sending a backhand past a surprised Byron Spriggs for his second of the post-season. 

The Cougars received the first powerplay of the game a few minutes later when Brett Brooks made a dangerous hit to the head on Jesse Lees. In addition to the penalty, Brooks would make his way to dressing room as the ref donned his hit worthy of a game misconduct. 

With the Cougars unable to break the deadlock on the powerplay, the teams went into the second period tied 1-1.

The Bisons had an early second period powerplay opportunity when Emerson Hrynyk's stick got tangled in an opposing players skates, resulting in a tripping call. Though the Bisons weren't able to score, they managed five shots on Lanigan before getting another powerplay chance after a Colton Waltz elbowing call, which the Cougars again successfully killed off.   

Lanigan was the main reason the Cougars didn't fall behind in the second period. Eight minutes into the frame the Bisons had a point blank chance absolutely robbed by Lanigan, flashing the leather on what looked like a sure goal for the visitors. 

The Cougars had a call go their way with six minutes remaining in the frame when Rene Hunter was sent to the box for tripping.  On the ensuing powerplay Jess Lees would take it upon himself to give the Cougars the lead. Using his pure athleticism, Lees carried the puck all the way from his own blue line, shifting his way past all four Bison defenders before putting a little bit of talent on a slick forehand shot between Sprigg's legs.  

The Cougars would keep their momentum going as Colton Waltz put the home squad up two just a few minutes later. Charging the net, a shot attempt from the sideboards by Tanner Olstad went off Waltz' shin pad and into the open cage, giving Mount Royal a 3-1 lead going into the final period. 

Olstad would get his third point of the night less than a minute into the final frame. Jamal Watson sent a shot wide of Spriggs that ricocheted off the boards all the way to the top of the opposite circle. Streaking in from the other side of the ice, Olstad one-timed a slap shot perfectly into the top left corner of the cage. 

Connor Rankin would add the insurance marker for the Cougars just two minutes later. Watson sent a shot at Spriggs who left a juicy rebound in the crease for Rankin to bury his fourth of the playoffs.   

With four minutes remaining the Cougars would put some salt in the wound. On a powerplay, Maddison Smiley would rocket a one timer perfectly into the top left corner to make it 6-1. Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for the Bisons, less than a minute later Luke Simpson would send a pass across the ice that went off Spriggs pad and in, making the score 7-1.  

With the win the Mount Royal Cougars will travel to Saskatchewan next weekend where they will take on the Canada West leading Huskies. Puck drop for Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary) is slated for 7 P.M.