U of R Sports Information
REGINA - The University of Regina men's hockey team rattled off five-straight goals to come from behind for a 6-3 win over the Manitoba Bisons at The Co-operators Centre on Saturday afternoon.
Zak Zborosky turned the game around with two goals late in the second period, sparking the Cougar onslaught. Zak Hicks, Tyler King, Tristan Frei and Mike Eskra also found the net for Regina, as the Cougars move to 4-17-1 on the season.
Jonah Wasylak replied with two goals for the Bisons, and Matthew Leblanc added a single.
Brandon Holtby got his the first win of his U SPORTS career in net for the Cougars, stopping 24 shots in 40 minutes of work. Dawson MacAuley played the first period, making 13 saves before leaving the game due to injury. Byron Spriggs made 25 saves as the Bisons fall to 4-16-2 on the season.
"It kind of caught me by surprise as we came in for the first intermission, and Dawson told me 'Hey, you're going.' It's something you get used to as a goalie and you always have to have the right mindset and be ready to work," Holtby said after the game.
The Bisons were buzzing in the Cougar zone for a good part of the first period, and Leblanc capitalized with his second goal of the weekend at the 14:18 mark. After a couple of strong chances that MacAuley turned away, Brett Steven found Leblanc all alone in the slot and he ripped a wrist shot over the blocker of the Cougar netminder.
Regina replied almost exactly a minute later, as Ben Duperreault raced down the ice to pressure a retreating Manitoba defender. The Bison skater lost his footing and Duperreault came up with the puck, feeding a trailing Hicks who scored his first goal as a Cougar with some help from a Tate Coughlin screen in front of Spriggs.
Wasylak put Manitoba back in front in the second period, scooping up a loose puck to the left of the Cougar goal and firing a high shot that beat a screened Holtby. Manitoba added to the lead minutes later, as Wasylak struck again. Some nice stick handling from Devon Skoleski had the Cougar defence out of position, and after Holtby made a pad save Wasylak was right there to backhand it in for his second of the period.
"We knew we needed to stay positive, games like that can spin the wrong way really quickly so it was good that we stuck with it and battled through that adversity," Holtby added.
Zborosky provided the Cougars with a spark near the end of the second period, taking a pass up the left wing and swooping past the Manitoba defence before out-waiting Spriggs and finishing with his forehand. Zborosky's fifth of the season was assisted by Frei and James Hilsendager.
The Cougars' leading goal scorer wasn't done there, as the second-year forward notched another goal before the end of the period to even the score. Zborosky picked up a loose puck and went in on an odd-man rush, electing to shoot and wiring a wrist shot over the blocker of Spriggs for his second goal in 80 seconds.
The momentum from Zborosky's goals carried over into the third period, as King took a pass in front of the net and made a nifty move to his backhand to flip in his fifth goal of the Canada West campaign. Tyler Kreklewich and Eskra earned assists on the goal as the Cougars took their first lead of the afternoon.
The Cougars did a good job of limiting the Bisons chances for the rest of the period, with aggressive defence and some timely saves from Holtby. The best of Holtby's 24 saves came on Brett Brooks late in the third, when Holtby had to lunge to his left across the crease to stifle the one-timer with his pad.
Regina all but sealed it with just under a minute left, as a mishandled pass at the blue line let Frei in alone on the empty net. Frei's fifth was unassisted, and shortly after Eskra launched the puck from his own blue line into the empty cage to wrap it up.
The Cougars will be at home again next weekend, as the No. 2-ranked Alberta Golden Bears will visit The Co-operators Centre. Manitoba will return home to host the Lethbridge Pronghorns.