Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG - Two goals in the opening period were enough for Manitoba on Saturday afternoon, as they earned a weekend sweep of the Calgary Dinos with a 4-1 win at Wayne Fleming Arena.
Both goals in the first 20 minutes came from the Bisons line of Sheridan Oswald, Lauryn Keen and Natasha Kostenko.
"They were one of the top lines in the conference last year and they came to play today," Bisons head coach Sean Fisher said about the Keen line postgame. "Kostenko back in the lineup today kind of brought a little more energy and pace. She brings a different element, she's a tough player for teams to handle."
Manitoba carried their momentum from last night's contest into the opening 20 minutes of game two, outshooting Calgary 14-4 while controlling play in the neutral zone.
Their first chance to get on the board came three minutes in, as forward Karissa Kirkup was sprung on a partial breakaway, however she was stopped by Dinos goaltender Kelsey Roberts.
Manitoba would score the eventual game-winner just 46 seconds later though, as Kostenko banged in a rebound in front of the Calgary net to make the score 1-0.
The hosts would add to their lead with just over a minute to play, as Keen intercepted a puck in the neutural zone and found her line mate Oswald, who was stopped on her first attempt by Roberts, but not her second to make the score 2-0.
The Dinos best chance to get on the board in the first period came 11 minutes into the contest, as forward Elizabeth Lang — who had the team's lone goal the night before — found Delaney Frey on a two-on-one, but Manitoba goaltender Lauren Taraschuk got her right pad over to keep the visitors off the board.
Manitoba continued to be aggressive on the forecheck to start the middle frame. Defender Erica Rieder, forward Jordyn Zacharias and Oswald all had solid chances in the opening eight minutes, but were shut down by Roberts.
Calgary turned the tides in the final ten minutes of the second period however, with a number of chances in the Bisons zone.
The first came from forward Rachel Paul with eight minutes to go, who had an open net but shot the puck just wide.
The Dinos continued to press and would gain a power play with 7:38 left, after Kostenko was called for tripping. The visitors would make no mistake with the man advantage, as Lang went top shelf on a cross-ice pass from captain Paige Michalenko with 6:49 to go, trimming the score to 2-1.
Calgary went back to the power play with five minutes remaining in the second, but were unable to tie the contest as the Manitoba penalty kill was up to the task, preserving a one-goal lead through 40 minutes.
The hosts dictated the pace of play in the final 20 minutes, earning three power play opportunities. They would make the score 3-1 on their second opportunity with the extra skater, courtesy of defender Lauren Warkentin at 8:13.
The Dinos were smothered offensively for the most part. Their best chance to narrow the deficit came nine minutes in, as forward Chelsea Court broke in tight, but was stopped by Taraschuk.
Manitoba's net minder was injured on the play, forcing rookie Erin Fargey into the contest. But the Bisons stood tall, limiting Calgary to just a few opportunities despite pulling their goaltender with a little under four minutes left.
The Bisons would cap the game with an empty netter courtesy of forward Madison Cole, as they finished the opening weekend 2-0.
Next up for Manitoba is a road tilt with Alberta on Oct. 12-13, while Calgary will host Saskatchewan that same weekend, looking for their first victory of the 2018-19 campaign.