Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — A four-point night from the line of Sheridan Oswald, Jordyn Zacharias and Alanna Sharman was the key on Friday night at Wayne Fleming Arena, as the No. 3 Manitoba Bisons topped the Regina Cougars 3-1. The Cougars are now 1-9 when they allow three goals or more.
Manitoba also clinched a playoff spot with the win, as Lethbridge went to overtime with Saskatchewan.
Manitoba controlled the majority of play in the first period, demonstrating great patience in the offensive zone.
The hosts had two great chances to open the scoring within the first ten minutes of play. Both opportunities came off of feeds from forward Jordyn Zacharias to line mate Sheridan Oswald in front. The first was stopped by Regina goalie Morgan Baker and the second went just wide.
Manitoba's constant pressure paid off with 6:03 to go, as Sharman stole a puck in the Regina zone, made a slick move and went top shelf on Baker. It's Sharman's third goal in the last two games since returning to the line-up two weeks ago, and her presence hasn't gone unnoticed by Bisons head coach Sean Fisher.
"She's got an infectious personality of positivity," he said postgame. "Everywhere she goes, she's always got a smile on her face, and her passion and love for the game rubs off on everyone else. I think you see other people like the game of hockey more when she's in the line-up."
The Cougars pushed for a response shortly after, with a strong amount of offensive zone time to close out the first period.
Their best chance to score came with three minutes to go, as defender Emily Middagh deked past three Manitoba players to get a good look in tight on Bisons goalie Lauren Taraschuk, who made a nice stop.
The hosts would capitalize on the play of their netminder just a minute later, getting another turnover — this one in the neutral zone — which resulted in a goal on a slap shot from defender Megan Neduzak.
The second period featured a tremendous battle between Baker and Manitoba's best line all night of Sharman, Zacharias and Sheridan Oswald. It was Baker would come out on top, keeping the game at 2-0 after two.
The Bisons' dangerous trio had their third stellar chance of the night nine minutes into the second. Sharman went cross-ice to Oswald, however Baker made an exceptional save with her blocker.
The fourth chance for the Zacharias line came with four minutes left, as Sharman found Zacharias, who appeared to have a wide open net near the left slot, but Baker made arguably her best save of the night, sliding face-first to her right to keep the puck out.
Regina was able to hold Manitoba's conference-leading power play in check through 40 minutes, however the hosts finally cracked the score board on special teams in the first minute of the third.
Yet again, it was Sharman and Sheridan Oswald who made their presence felt. The former got a great shot off and the latter tapped in the rebound for her sixth of the year.
But Regina's second-ranked power play responded less than a minute later, as forward Jaycee Magwood tipped in a shot from Emma Waldenberger to reduce Manitoba's lead to two.
That's all the Cougars could muster though, as the Bisons did a good job keeping Regina to the outside, especially when the visitors pulled their goalie with a minute-and-a-half left.
With the win, Manitoba advanced to 13-4-2-2 while Regina fell to 7-9-2-3. Both teams are back in action tomorrow at 4 p.m.