MHKY: Bisons fall in home opener to Thunderbirds

MHKY: Bisons fall in home opener to Thunderbirds
Austin Frame, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG- The University of Manitoba Bisons men's hockey team started off the 2017-18 Canada West campaign Saturday at home, dropping a physical affair 6-4 to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.
Opening night of the Canada West season for both teams saw the Thunderbirds beat the Bisons in a spirited affair, with an offensive outburst in the third period from the Thunderbirds being the difference in this game. The dislike between the two squads was evident from the outset, and persisted throughout with countless scrums and dust-ups after the whistles in what was a nasty meeting to open the season. The Bisons drop to 0-1-0 and UBC starts out with a record of 1-0-0.
The Bisons looked good throughout long stretches of the game on Saturday night and had a successful night on the powerplay going 2-for 6 on the man advantage but in the end, it was a breakdown in the later stages of the third period that told the story of this meeting between the CW foes. The Bisons gave up three goals in a stretch lasting just over three minutes during the later half of the frame as UBC put the game out of hand. 
Things went off the rails for Manitoba late in the third as UBC added to their lead at 12:13 when Austin Vetterl put a shot through the back door on Spriggs with the assists going to Nick Buonassisi and Joe Carvalho.
UBC put the game out of reach at 13:28 of the third period when Vetterl got his second of the game just mere moments after his first. The Thunderbirds would add another with 4:45 left in the third coming off the stick of Buonassisi.  
"Give UBC credit, they bounced back after we had such a dominating first period" Bison head coach Mike Sirant said after the game.
At the start of the game, Bisons fourth year goaltender Byron Spriggs was tested early by the Thunderbirds, before Manitoba could turn the tide in their favour by physically out battling UBC. The Herd threw their weight around early and often allowing the Herd to dominate much of the first period and trap the Thunderbirds in their own end of the ice, outshooting UBC 15-6 in the opening frame which was capped off by a goal from Sean Christensen as he potted a rebound, scoring the first goal of the '17-18 season from Michael St. Croix and Zach Franko inside of the four-minute mark of the first period. 
UBC got their legs under them in the second half of the frame, and responded with a tally of their own from Matt Revel with 4:43 remaining in the first, tying the score at one by the end of the first period.
The furious pace that was set in the first period continued early in the second, with both teams trading early scoring chances back and forth down the ice. The T-Birds were the better team of the two throughout the second period, controlling most of the play and spending prolonged time in the Bisons zone and were rewarded with their second goal by Carter Popoff. 
Undisciplined play proved to be costly for the Thunderbirds, as Quinton Lisoway was able to capitalize on a four-minute powerplay for the Bisons when UBC's Chase Clayton took a double minor for spearing.  The tie would not last long however, as Michael Stenerson gave the visitors the lead just 52 seconds later a short-handed breakaway and the T-Birds would take the 3-2 lead to the dressing room and into the third period. 
Spriggs was Manitoba's best player for the duration of the middle frame, making countless timely saves for the Herd, although UBC took advantage of a miscue from the Bisons at 2:52 of the second with T-Birds Jerret Smith beat Spriggs on a shot from the point after an energetic chain of events in front of the Manitoba net. The second period was more evenly matched as both teams had sustained pressure in the offensive zone, along with several quality scoring chances for both teams with UBC winning the period.
The ice tilted the way of the Thunderbirds for the early part of the third period, as the visitors generated multiple scoring opportunities, with Spriggs standing tall and getting some help from two different posts hit by UBC as well.
Late in the contest, the Bisons would add two more as Kamerin Nault and Channing Bresciani scored their first goals of the season. 
Manitoba and UBC will battle it out once again on Sunday, October 8 in the rematch of this season opening series at 1 p.m. CT at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg.