By Devon Shewchuk, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG - A fast-paced game of men's hockey at the Wayne Fleming Arena saw a solid effort from the No. 10 Manitoba Bisons. Strong goaltending from Bisons netminder Byron Spriggs helped push the team to a 7-3 win against the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday, Feb, 3.
After this game, the Bisons continue their win streak of five games, now with a record of 16-8-2 and remain in third place in the CW standings, while the Pronghorns record falls to 8-15-3 and now on an eight game losing streak.
"For us to be successful as a team we have to combine our speed and skill, we got away from that a bit in the first period today, but brought it back in the second," said Bisons head coach Mike Sirant.
Though the third period is where the Bisons sealed their win, it was the second period that changed the pace of the game for the home team.
In the middle frame , a powerful Bisons offence led to three goals scored by home team in under five minutes.
The first was by Bisons assistant captain Michael St. Croix, who was able to tuck it home past Lethbridge goalie Garret Hughson, after a quick pass from Zach Franko. This tied the teams at a 2-2 score.
Soon after, Bisons forward Liam Bilton was able to score an unassisted goal after firing the puck which has chipped off the stick of Pronghorns Justin Valentino, glove-side at the top of the net. Seconds later, Bisons went to the power play after a high-sticking call was handed to the Pronghorns. It was Bisons forward Quintin Lisoway who found the visitors' net early into the power play, assisted by Bresciani and Bisons forward Remi Laurencelle.
The offensive Bisons play led to a Pronghorns goalie switch, where Ty Edmonds took the place of Hughson in net.
Despite the offsetting minors call that led to two minutes of 4-on-4 play for the teams, no more goals were scored in the second period and the Herd led 4-2 and took control of the game and the momentum.
In the third, Edmonds had no chance to react after a quick goal scored by St. Croix, assisted by teammates Franko and assistant captain Channing Bresciani.
Next it was Lethbridge's turn to score, as Pronghorns defenseman Dallas Valentine was able to snipe a shot past Spriggs after a huge in-front-of-the-net scramble in the Bison's end.
Minutes later, there was an easy redirect on the puck that helped Bisons forward Brad Bowles score, assisted by teammates St. Croix and Franko. The home team increased the lead to 6-3.
It was in the dying seconds of the game, where St. Croix sniped one last shot past net to net his hat-trick, propelling the Herd's score to a 7-3 final.
Early in the first, Pronghorns forward Sam McKenchie had a great opportunity in front of the net and fired the puck, but Spriggs was able to get his shoulder on it and push it off the net. Minutes later, Bisons St. Croix made a huge check in the neutral zone, with the pace of play from both teams picking up greatly from there.
It was the Manitoba who scored first, after Laurencelle was able to weave his way around Lethbridge defenseman at the blue line and fire a shot at the net, assisted by teammates Justin Augert and Adam Henry.
Midway through the first, a turnover in Bisons territory led to a fantastic effort by Pronghorns left-wing Ryon Moser, who was able to pass it to teammate Artsiom Kalashnikov for the goal. Soon after, Lethbridge struck again. Assisted by teammate Mitchell Maxwell, it was Pronghorns McKenchie who scored the goal that moved the Pronghorns into a 2-1 lead headed into the second period.
The Bisons now head to Alberta next weekend (Feb. 9-10) to play the Calgary Dinos, while the Lethbridge Pronghorns head home to play the Regina Cougars.
First star: MAN - Michael St. Croix (3G, 1A)
Second star: MAN - Zach Franko (3A)
Third star: MAN – Adam Henry (2A)
Bison Notes: Four graduating Bison men's hockey players were honoured prior to the start of their last CW regular seaosn game at home. Forwards Justin Augert, Warren callis and Joel Scheryer along with defenceman Channing Bresciani was feted before the home win.