Winnipeg – The eighth-ranked Manitoba Bisons honoured senior players Jessica Rosenbaum, Michelle Pawluk, and Maggie Litchfield-Medd in a pregame ceremony before downing the Mount Royal Cougars for their seventh-straight win.
The Manitoba Bisons controlled the game from the opening face-off. Their puck movement and solid defensive play allowed no real chances for the Mount Royal Cougars, and the forecheck was rewarded just six minutes in. Nicole McGlenen's pressure along the boards forced a turnover, and Courtlyn Oswald ripped the centering pass from McGlenen past the Cougars' Jess Ross for the early 1-0 Bisons lead.
The Cougars, however, would use their special teams to respond. On the power play, the Cougars moved the puck around the Manitoba zone before Tanika Dawson's shot from the point hit Bisons goaltender Rachel Dyck with a number of bodies in front. The Cougars whacked away at the rebound, and Reanna Arnold was rewarded with the power play marker after several rebound attempts to knot the game up at 1-1. The two teams would trade chances down the final 9:25, but would give way to the intermission still tied 1-1 and the Bisons leading 9-4 in shots.
The second period saw both teams go up and down the ice, but there weren't a lot of quality chances generated. A penalty by the Cougars would prove costly, though, as Bisons' leading scorer Alanna Sharman notched a power play goal at 12:45 on a beautiful give-and-go with Alana Serhan to put the home side up 2-1. The Bisons worked the cycle game nicely for the remaining seven minutes in the period, playing the majority of it in the Cougars' zone.
Manitoba's top line went to work in the final minute of the period, and a centering pass from Alanna Sharman hit a skate in front of the Cougars' net as Jess Ross slid across the crease to her right. With the puck sitting dangerously in the crease and Ross out of position, Alana Serhan deposited it into the yawning cage and Manitoba would retire to the dressing rooms with a 3-1 lead on the scoreboard and a 24-12 lead in shots!
The third period started with a bang Manitoba's Maggie Litchfield-Medd battled for a partial breakaway before she and Cougars defenceman Mairi Sorensen crashed heavily into netminder Jess Ross. Litchfield-Medd was called for goalie interference, and Alana Serhan joined her in the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct after she hammered the puck into the boards out of frustration. The five-on-three power play for Mount Royal yielded nothing, though, as Manitoba dodged a bullet.
Mount Royal found themselves down a man after Sydney Laurin was whistled for bodychecking, and the potent Manitoba power play made the night worse for Mount Royal. Michelle Pawluk found Alanna Sharman in the right corner, and she fired a centering pass out to Alana Serhan who had no problem finding the back of the net for her second goal of the night to give Manitoba a 4-1 lead.
Mount Royal would chip away at the deficit as some confusion behind the Manitoba net led to Jade Osadchuk finding the puck and centering to Sydney Laurin as Bisons goaltender Rachel Dyck was searching for the puck, and Mount Royal was back within a pair of goals as Laurin found some space on the far post behind Dyck. Manitoba would continue to control the play by bottling up the neutral zone over the remaining ten minutes, managing the clock and the game with some exceptional forechecking.
Mount Royal would send Ross to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:13 to play, but Manitoba weathered the storm to emerge victorious with their seventh-straight win in a 4-2 victory.
The Bisons and Cougars will meet in the second half of the weekend set tomorrow at 1pm at Wayne Fleming Arena.