VANCOUVER — The Manitoba Bisons defeated the UBC Thunderbirds 2-1 in Game 3 of the Canada West semifinal to win the best-of-three series Sunday afternoon at Father Bauer Arena. The Bisons now move on to the Canada West final to face the University of Alberta.
Considering just three points separated these two teams in the regular season standings it is no surprise the series went the distance with all three games finishing in the same 2-1 score.
On Sunday, Manitoba's top line of Alanna Sharman, Alana Serhan, and Maggie Litchfield-Medd was the difference scoring both goals, while Rachel Dyck shut the door at the other hand, stopping 23 of 24 shots to earn the victory.
Leading 1-0 heading into the third period, the Bisons scored what would prove to be the game winning goal just 24 seconds into the frame. With Nikola Brown-John in the penalty box and fresh ice Sharman fired a tape to tape pass from the corner right onto the stick of Serhan who tipped it past Danielle Dube, giving the Bisons 2-0 lead. For Sharman, who led the Canada West in scoring during the regular season, it was her eighth point of the post season.
UBC turned up the pressure and starting generating chances. Rafter was stopped point blank by Dyck 4:20 into the third period, sparking an offensive onslaught. Finally the 'Birds were able to put one past the Bisons netminder with 9:04 left in regulation. Playing 4-on-4 hockey, Rebecca Unrau tipped Celine Tardif's point shot past Dyck cutting the lead to 2-1.
The Thunderbirds continued to press and in the final moments with Dube on the bench for an extra attacker, Sharman laid out to block a Tatiana Rafter one timer in the slot and then Dyck stopped a flurry of shots in the final seconds to preserve the 2-1 victory and punch Manitoba's ticket to the Canada West Final.
UBC finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play, while Manitoba went 1-for-5.
Dude made 18 saves in a losing cause.
The Bisons opened the scoring 9:01 into the first period of play. Sharman came off the half wall and beat a screened Dube high on the glove side to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
UBC had a number of solid chances to score the equalizer but were unable to get one past Dyck. Katie Zinn was stopped on three separate occasions, but perhaps Dyck's best save of the period came off a Cailey Hay point shot she was able to get a piece of at the last minute. 1-0 is things stood through 20 minutes of play.
The Bisons nearly made it 2-0 early in the second period as Sharman stole the puck from Rafter and was in alone, but Dube made the save to keep it 1-0. UBC's best chance of the period came on the power play as Sarah Casorso set up Rafter on a one timer, but she whistled it just wide. In the final few minutes, the Bisons pressure was causing problems for the Thunderbirds and generating a couple of big chances. Litchfield-Medd tipped a point shot just over the cross bar and then Courtlyn Oswald was stopped on the door step by Dube. Shots through two periods of play were 14-14.
UBC finishes the season with a overall record of 22-7-5.
Manitoba will face Alberta in the Canada West Final with the winner advancing to the CIS National Championships in Calgary.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds