Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — A low glove-side shot by fifth-year forward Erin Kucheravy with 4:45 left in the third period opened the floodgates for top-ranked Manitoba, as they scored three goals roughly two minutes apart to top the Lethbridge Pronghorns 4-1 on Saturday afternoon at Wayne Fleming Arena.
"Kuch is filling the net right now. That's back-to-back nights for her, and she's been an awesome five-year player in this program," Bisons head coach Sean Fisher said postgame.
"I know she wants to contribute offensively and I'm really happy for her. She's definitely known for her ability to check and shut down other teams and is one of the elite penalty killers in this conference as well."
Penalties were the story of the first period, as both teams scored on the power play, while Lethbridge spent close to half of the opening 20 minutes in the box.
The Pronghorns opened the scoring at 9:33 thanks to their special teams, as forward Brett Campbell put home a loose puck in front of the Manitoba net that had originally been shot by Kyra Greig and bounced around in front of the Bisons crease.
Manitoba responded on the power play at 11:58 however, as forward Natasha Kostenko's shot sneaked past the far post of goaltender Jessie Lohues to tie up the game.
The Herd had a number of solid opportunities to take the lead with the extra skater, however Lohues was up to the task.
Forward Jordyn Zacharias — who was stellar last night with a hat trick — had an excellent chance in front with three minutes to go, but Lohues held her ground. Karissa Kirkup and Alexandra Anderson also got strong looks, but Lohues kept her composure to keep the game level.
Manitoba outshot the Pronghorns 10-4 in the second period but couldn't find the back of the net, despite a handful of quality opportunities. Both sides took a few infractions as well, however each penalty kill unit did their job.
Forward Courtlyn Oswald had the best chance of the period for Manitoba with less than five minutes to go on special teams, however her shot off an Erica Rieder feed hit the crossbar.
The visitor's best chance occurred three minutes in, as Campbell broke in on a two-on-one, however her shot sailed wide. Manitoba goaltender Devan Johnson stood tall between the posts for the Herd all period as well.
The period was just as gritty as the first two, as both sides played strong defensively with some clutch saves coming from both netminders.
The Pronghorns had an excellent chance to re-rake the lead with six minutes to go, as defender Jodi Gentile blasted a slap shot right on, however she was denied by Johnson, who made her best save of the night extending her pad.
"[Johnson] didn't have a ton of work, but she had to be good there," Fisher said.
"She kind of settled in. I thought she was a bit nervous in the first period with her first U SPORTS start, but settled in and made the big save when we needed it."
Manitoba broke the game open in the final four and a half minutes, scoring the game-winning goal at 4:45 from Kucheravy, after a great rush by line mate Madison Cole.
Zacharias added an insurance marker a minute later courtesy of a great move and backhand shot from Zacharias, and put the game on ice with an empty-netter from forward Lauryn Keen.
With the win, the Bisons improve to 7-2-1-0 while Lethbridge falls to 3-6-0-1. Next up for the Herd is a road trip to UBC next weekend, while the Pronghorns will travel to Alberta.