SASKATOON – Venla Hovi scored 9:02 into the fifth overtime period Sunday night at Rutherford Rink giving the University of Manitoba Bisons a 2-1 win in the longest ever Canada West game ever played.
Hovi finished off a pass from Alanna Sharman with the Bisons on a 2-on-1 to seal the series clinching victory.
The win gives the Bisons a 2-1 quarter-final series win and advances them to a Canada West semifinal series starting next Friday in Edmonton against the University of Alberta Pandas.
Sunday's Game 3 marathon ended at 12:01 a.m. Monday morning and broke the previous record for longest Canada West game by nearly an entire period. The previous record was also set in Saskatoon. The Regina Cougars defeated the Huskies 12:30 into the fourth overtime in Game 2 of the 2013-14 Canada West Final.
Alanna Sharman scored the other goal for the Bisons, while Lauren Zary scored the Huskies regulation goal.
Amanda Schubert made 66 saves in goal for the Bisons, while Cassidy Hendricks stopped 40 for the Huskies.
Alanna Sharman took over the puck for the Bisons after a Huskie turnover in the neutral zone. Sharman dropped a pass for a trailing Venla Hovi who sent a high shot in on Cassidy Hendricks. Hendricks was able to make the initial save, but Lauryn Keen was right there on the doorstep to jam it in for the lead just 11 seconds into the game. The goal was the second fastest ever to start a Canada West game.
Neither team generated much offence in the first period after Manitoba opened the scoring early. The two teams settled into a defensive shell in front of their respective nets preventing any great scoring chances. The Bisons outshot the Huskies 6-5 in the period.
The Huskies generated some momentum early in the second period, taking advantage of back-to-back power-plays. Saskatchewan was able to fire a few shots in on net, but couldn't solve Schubert.
Manitoba was next to go on the advantage. Already up a skater the Bisons drew another penalty to go to 5-on-3 for 1:11. A couple of scoring chances were sent wide of the goal during that stretch and Hendricks was in the right spot to turn away a pair of shots and keep the deficit at one.
The penalty kill seemed to spark the Huskies as they came out firing on the offensive end after both player returned to the ice. Saskatchewan kept the puck in the Manitoba end almost exclusively for six minutes. The home squad continued to open fire on the Bison net ending the period on the power-play again, but could not get the equalizer and headed to the dressing room still down a goal after two.
Saskatchewan outshot Manitoba 13-4 in the second frame.
The Huskies kept their momentum going in the third period, once again controlling the puck in the Manitoba end and outshooting the Bisons in the opening six minutes. Finally, Saskatchewan was able to square things up with a goal by Lauren Zary.
Kaitlin Willoughby started the play by chipping the puck off the boards around a defender in the neutral zone. Marley Ervine was first to the puck for the Huskies as they entered the Bisons zone 3-on-1. Ervine sent a saucer pass over the stick of a Manitoba defender to Zary who outwaited Schubert and sent a backhander to the back of the net at 10:38.
After the Huskies tied things up, Manitoba looked to get back in front with some good pressure in the Huskie zone. The Bisons had a couple chances to jam the puck in at the side of the net had Hendricks not stood her ground in the Saskatchewan crease.
Once again it was the Huskies outshooting the Bisons 11-2 in the third period.
The Huskies came out strong in the overtime session, with a couple of early chances in the opening minutes. Kori Herner nearly ended things just over two minutes in until a Manitoba defender deflected her shot away from the open cage.
In double overtime, both teams had chances as they raced back and forth in search of the series clinching win. Manitoba's most dangerous chance came from the point in the early going of the period. The shot through a crowd deflected just wide of the goal. Five minutes into the frame the Huskies would respond when Brooklyn Haubrich broke free and sent a hard shot in on Amanda Schubert.
The teams continued to battle in the third and fourth overtimes, showing elite mental and physical toughness to continue playing well into the night. Each side had multiple chances down the stretch with each goalie being up to the task at every opportunity.
Manitoba will continue on in the post-season with a visit to Edmonton next weekend.