Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — Five unanswered goals, including three in the third period from forward Zak Zborosky, helped the Regina Cougars top the Manitoba Bisons 6-3 on Saturday afternoon at Wayne Fleming Arena.
"Although we were competing and playing with more urgency today, our execution still isn't where it needs to be," Bisons head coach Mike Sirant said postgame.
"We were forcing plays and there were too many turnovers and some missed assignments at key times that led to them scoring. It's a real wake up call for us."
Manitoba dictated the pace of play in the opening ten minutes of the game, hungry for a better start than the night prior.
Forward Kamerin Nault would open the scoring for Manitoba at 6:21, hustling to pick up his own rebound and beating Regina goaltender Dawson MacAuley.
Momentum shifted to Regina's side in the closing six minutes of play, after the hosts took two minor penalties just over two minutes apart.
The Cougars had a few solid chances to level the score with the man advantage, the most notable coming from Zborosky, who deked past a Bison player but couldn't sneak the puck behind Manitoba goaltender Dasan Sydora's right blocker.
The hosts would add to their lead with 1:26 to go in the first, as defenceman Adam Henry jumped up in an odd-man rush and scored on a centring pass that banked off the side of MacAuley's skate and in.
Manitoba took a double minor penalty just over two minutes into the second period, but their special teams stepped up, creating multiple odd-man chances, including a shot that went off the crossbar.
The Bisons had another chance to add to their lead halfway through the middle frame, as forward Devon Skoleski broke in on a two-on-one with linemate Jeremey Leipsic, however the centring pass went just wide.
Regina took complete control in the final five minutes of the second period. They would get their first goal of the game with 4:53 left, as defenceman Tyler King finished off a one-time pass from Zborosky.
The Cougars would then level the score with 1:01 to go, as defenceman Brennan Riddle was able to beat Sydora with a slap shot.
It was the Zborosky show in the third period, as he scored three straight goals eight minutes apart.
He netted the eventual game-winner at 7:34 on a one-timer, then added his second goal off a wrist shot on a power play midway through the final frame. The hat trick occurred with 5:40 left as he went top shelf on Sydora.
"I was getting a lot of chances all game and yesterday too and was getting a little frustrated," Zborosky said postgame. "But finally in the third period Jordan Burns gave me a good pass backdoor and it went in and it kind of just took off from there."
Manitoba would cut into the Cougars lead with 4:39 to go, as Nault finished off a pass from Leipsic for his second goal of the game, but it was too little too late, as Regina would add an empty net goal from Corwin Stevely to put the game on ice.
With the win, the Cougars advance to 2-3-1, while Manitoba falls to 2-4-0. Next up for Manitoba is a road tilt this weekend against the Mount Royal Cougars, while Regina and Saskatchewan will split a home-and-home set.