WINNIPEG, MB - Assured of a playoff spot, but in the driver's seat for some much-needed rest, the #9-ranked Manitoba Bison women's hockey team had seeding on the line in their Saturday afternoon showdown against the Calgary Dinos.
An intense finish with both team's leaders making their mark, it was the Dinos sealing it in overtime, winning 4-3.
"I thought our girls played really hard down 3-1 in the third and coming back, that was very gutsy of them," said Bison assistant coach Lisa Peters. "The biggest thing we say as coaches is that we play to win in overtime. We were shorthanded, but we went for on a 2-on-1 play and were aggressive on that and then they turned it back on us."
Calgary got early goals from unlikely sources and the overtime game-winner from a fifth-year veteran. Jenna Smith scored the winner in overtime, with earlier goals coming from Megan Grenon, Chelsea Peterson, and Janelle Parent. Carissa Fischer was outstanding in net, making 22 saves on 25 shots.
Manitoba's leaders performed admirably in the loss, with goals coming from Alana Serhan, Michelle Pawluk, and Erica Reider. Rachel Dyck got the start in net, making 18 saves on 22 shots.
Calgary started the action early in the second. With Manitoba already down a body, Caitlin Fyten took a blatant cross checking penalty. On the ensuing 5-on-3, Calgary got a screen on Dyck in front of the net and Grenon found the back of the net for her third of the year. Manitoba then got a player out of the box, but failed to stop the Dinos, who scored again on the same power play - this time, Peterson backhanded in a rebound off a Grenon shot to make it 2-0.
In the dying moments of the second, the Bisons responded. Lauryn Keen intercepted a pass at the Manitoba blue line, took off, and Reider closely followed to bury the rebound, closing the gap to one.
Calgary scored again to start the third, but the Bisons came storming back with Sharman and Serhan leading the charge. The Bisons scored twice, two minutes apart, both set up by beautiful Sharman moves into the slot. Each time, the goal was scored on her rebound, first by Serhan, then by Pawluk.
The game went to overtime, but an unfortunate penalty late in the third ended up hurting in a 4-on-3 situation. Jenna Smith, with more real estate to work with, weaved into the zone and made a pair of moves before blasting a shot past Dyck to win it.
The Bison women's hockey team now put the regular season behind them and look ahead to the playoffs. After this loss, Manitoba will unfortunately miss out on a week one bye, as UBC will pick up at least a point to lock up the #2 seed in their game against Alberta later today.
That means the Bisons will take the #3 seed and host the loser of tonight's game between Regina and Saskatchewan, who face off for the #5 seed at 7 p.m. CST.
The best-of-three Canada West Quarterfinals between #3 Manitoba and #6 Regina/Saskatchewan will begin Friday, February 20 at Wayne Fleming Arena at 7 p.m. CST.
Written by: John Gaudes