WHKY: No.1 Bisons headed to U SPORTS semis

WHKY: No.1 Bisons headed to U SPORTS semis

U SPORTS Communications

LONDON, Ont. – The Manitoba Bisons booked their ticket semifinals with a convincing 4-0 win over the Queen's Gaels on Friday afternoon in quarter-final action at the 2018 U SPORTS Women's Hockey Championship at Thompson Arena.

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"I thought we skated well for not having played for two weeks," said Bisons head coach Jon Rempel. "I thought we executed well, I thought the pace was very quick for us and I thought they had no trouble adjusting to the pace of the game." 

Manitoba will move on to the semifinals on Saturday night, while Queen's will play in the consolation semifinals earlier in the day.

"I was extremely proud of our players for how they played the full 60 (minutes)," said Gaels head coach Matt Holmberg. "(I'm) certainly proud that they didn't give up, and I really appreciate that."

The Bisons used a balanced attack to pick up the win, with Courtlyn Oswald, Alanna Sharman, Alexandra Anderson, and Lauryn Keen each recording a goal on Friday. Lauren Taraschuk earned the shutout for Manitoba with a 17-save performance.

The game started off with Manitoba dictating the pace of play, generating shots and limiting the Gaels' opportunities in the first four minutes of the game. Despite the shot differential, play was a fast-paced back and forth affair, before Oswald tipped in a point shot from Alana Serhan to put the Bisons up 1-0 just prior to the 10-minute mark.

The Gaels attempted to respond with a pair of two-on-one scoring chances, but Taraschuk kept her team in front with a number of important saves.

"I thought she was really good, she made a really key stop on the broken two on one there I thought if that puck goes in, it's 1-1, the game might be different," said Rempel. "I thought we kept most of the stuff to the outside for her, and they didn't get a ton of pressure. She made a couple saves that I liked."

The Bisons kept their momentum going into the second period, where they exploded for three goals.

Manitoba doubled their lead less than two minutes into the period, capitalizing on their second power play of the game, with Sharman notching her first point of the contest.

Then, with just over a minute to go in the frame, a point shot from Sharman was tipped by Anderson to make it 3-0. 

With 16 seconds left in the period, Manitoba added to their lead when a cross-ice pass from Lauren Warkentin slid through the slot and connected with the open stick of Keen, who found the back of the net. 

"We're a team that's built to get the lead, and when we get the lead, we're difficult to play against and difficult to score against," said Rempel. "That's how this whole year's been, is get leads and start working teams and grinding them and make teams try and get out of their game plan."

With six and a half minutes left to play in the contest, the Gaels pulled goaltender Stephanie Pascal in a last-ditch effort to get on the board, but the Bisons managed to preserve the four-goal lead for the win.  

"I'm aware of the odds of winning a game like that, we need to do everything we can do try and be successful," said Holmberg. "You never know what can happen - that sort of mentality of the team is to never quit until that las whistle." 

Manitoba will play in Saturday's second semifinal, which is set for 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT, while Queen's moves into the consolation semifinal at 1:00 p.m. ET/10:00 a.m. PT.

Players of the Game

Manitoba: Alanna Sharman

Montreal: Emily Gervais