Written by: Ryan Stelter
Winnipeg, MB- On Friday January 22, the University of Manitoba women's hockey team played host to the first of a two-game series against the Lethbridge Pronghorns. The Pronghorns edged past the Bisons by a score of 3-2.
With the win, the Lethbridge Pronghorns snap their four-game losing streak and improve to 7-11-1. The Bisons have their losing streak extended to two games and see their conference record sit at 10-9-2.
The game was largely dominated by the Bisons, but a second period lapse saw the Pronghorns capitalize and jump out to a two-goal lead, which they were able to hold onto.
The first period was dominated by the Bisons, where they established an excellent cycle game early on. Manitoba outshot the visitors 14-9. However, Lethbridge opened up the scoring four minutes into the opening frame when Sarah Spence made a nice move to come out of the corner and fire a shot off the post. The puck bounced behind Bison goaltender Rachel Dyck and Aislinn Kooistra was there to finish on the empty net.
Both teams continued to trade chances, including a Pronghorn breakaway from forward Chelsea Kasprick who came streaking in and forced an excellent pad save from Dyck. The Bisons would get their equalizer at the midway mark of the first period on the power play when Alana Serhan had her shot from the slot go off a skate and into the back of the net.
The Pronghorns got an opportunity late in the period on the power play, but a stout Bison penalty kill completely snuffed out any chances for the Pronghorns. The two teams would head into the dressing rooms knotted at one a piece.
In the second period, Lethbridge grabbed a hold of the momentum when Spence earned a goal of her own after a nifty move at the half boards and finishing short side on Dyck. Minutes later, the Pronghorns would add to their lead when Kaitlyn Bauer weaved her way through a Bison blockade at the blue line only to be hauled down. Jenae Culp was there as the trailer and she made no mistake from the top of the slot, hammering home past Dyck.
Bison head coach Jon Rempel decided enough was enough and pulled Dyck after she allowed three goals on 13 shots. Amanda Schubert played admirably in relief, stopping all the shots she faced. Rempel explained post game that it was not on the goalie tonight.
"Wasn't on the goalie today," he said, "We needed something to wake the team up, which to an it did at times."
The Pronghorns and Bisons traded power plays in the latter half of the second stanza but neither teams were able to capitalize on their chances. Manitoba pushed hard towards the end of the frame, peppering rookie Pronghorn goaltender Alicia Anderson. Bison forward Venla Hovi would get a chance to pull the Bisons within one with two minutes left in the second, but was stymied by Anderson flashing the leather on her.
The home side came out flying in the third period, with Hovi again getting a great scoring chance when she waltzed through the Lethbridge slot and tried to fire a shot past a sprawling Anderson but she was once again stopped.
Manitoba, desperate for a goal threw everything on net and eventually got their reward 11 minutes into the third when Alanna Sharman picked up a loose puck in front of the net and wristed a shot past Anderson. Sharman almost had another goal minutes later after she toe dragged into the slot and let off a high shot on Anderson, who stood tall to make the save.
The pressure continued to be poured on by the Bisons and with the net empty and the clock winding down, Manitoba just could not find the equalizer.
Rempel talked post game about the Bisons' performance and their struggles to get going when it mattered most.
"[Lethbridge] played desperately and we didn't," he said, "They started the hockey game well and before we decided to show up it was too late."
The Bisons and Pronghorns play the second game of this series on Saturday at 1 p.m. CT at the
Wayne Fleming Arena.
SCORING BY PERIOD:
MAN: Alanna Sharman (1G, 1A)
LTH: Sarah Spence (1G, 1A)