Bison women's hockey outlast Cougars, win 4-1

Bison women's hockey outlast Cougars, win 4-1

WINNIPEG, MB - Physical, defensive hockey - everything you want from a playoff debut was on display on Friday, February 20 from the Manitoba Bison women's hockey team. With a 4-1 win over the Regina Cougars, the Bisons broke a four-game losing streak in the playoffs and are a win away from their first series win since 2011-12.

The Bisons can advance to the semifinals tomorrow night, Saturday, February 21. Puck drops at 7 p.m. CST at the Wayne Fleming Arena. Game 3, if needed, would be Sunday, February 22 at the same time.

"I think we got back to playing really tough defensively and our puck possession was really good, I think we got in the cycle and wore them down as the game went on," said Bison head coach Jon Rempel, who was named Canada West Coach of the Year earlier this week.

The score belies a tough, competitive outing, as two late goals from Manitoba provided insurance after a long, physical slog. Bison goals came from Michelle Pawluk, Courtlyn Oswald, Lauryn Keen, and Maggie Litchfield-Medd. Litchfield-Medd, in particular, was fantastic,  controlling the pace with hard skating into the Regina zone and holding her intensity throughout the 60 minutes.

"She obviously got over the jet lag from Spain," said Rempel, who returned to Winnipeg this week with Litchfield-Medd after both participated in the 2015 Universiade in Granada. "Just that energy that she brought back to the lineup after being out a couple weeks, it was badly needed in practice this week… she lifted the team today."

Regina's lone goal came from Kylie Gavelin, a beauty on a solo break-in early in the second period. Toni Ross was strong for much of the game, with 35 saves, but eventually broke late. Rachel Dyck made 21 saves for Manitoba.

Manitoba's game-winning goal came 7:29 into the third period, as Litchfield-Medd redirected a point shot from Erica Reider. The goal was on the power play, as Regina repeatedly was called for roughing and body checking penalties, which put them at a disadvantage five times in the game. The penalties also resulted in a strong Manitoba start. With many chances coming up empty, this win could have been much more dominant than it already was.

One negative for the Bisons, as assistant co-captain Lindsay Blight left the game six minutes in with a lower body injury. Her status for tomorrow is unknown.

Written by: John Gaudes