Matthew B. Pohl, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE, Alta — It was a well fought effort by the Lethbridge Pronghorns on Saturday, as Alli Borrow scored with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. However, it would be Manitoba's Jordyn Zacharias netting the only goal in the shootout, to give the Bisons their second win over the Pronghorns in as many nights.
Manitoba's starter Lauren Taraschuk would make 40 saves on the way to the shootout win, while Lethbridge's Alicia Anderson would turn aside 55 of 56 shots against in the shootout loss.
The game started out as many might have guessed, with the conference-leading Bisons maintaining control of the puck right out of the gate. However, the resolve of the home side responded well to the early press, as the Pronghorns led on the shot clock 10-4 at the halfway point of the first period, thanks to an early power play opportunity.
The Bisons would get a power play chance of their own just outside the 12-minute mark of the period. The Pronghorns would successfully kill off the penalty, allowing two Manitoba shots to reach Anderson.
Period one would end with empty goal columns for either side, but with Lethbridge finding the lead on the shot clock, taking a 16-8 shots advantage over the Bisons heading into the intermission.
Lethbridge would continue to press Manitoba in the early second period, and the pressure would lead a power play opportunity. Just two seconds before killing off the penalty, Tricia Van Vaerenbergh would get sent to the box to serve a tripping penalty, and the Bisons would see power play time of their own.
Manitoba would begin to regain the momentum on the man-advantage, as they would get four quality shots off against Anderson on the shortened power play. Anderson would stand tall, ensuring that her team would not fall behind, as Lethbridge would survive once again without allowing a goal on the disadvantage.
Pace of play would continue to be dictated by the Pronghorns, as they would hem the Bisons in their own zone for a significant amount of time. Upon trying to break out of their zone, the Bisons would draw an interference penalty from Jodi Gentile.
On the ensuing man advantage, Alexandra Anderson would net her fourth of the season to give her Bisons a 1-0 lead. The goal was assisted by Erica Rieder and Jordyn Zacharias.
Lethbridge would draw a penalty of their own, as Alexandra Anderson would sit two minutes. The Pronghorns would not find the back of the net, and only managed one shot on the net guarded by Taraschuk.
The period would end with Alexandra Anderson's marker as the only tally on the scoresheet, putting the Bisons up by one goal heading into the third period. Lethbridge would hold a two-shot advantage over Manitoba, 26-24.
Period three began to see the momentum shift in favour of the Bisons, as both sides continued to improve their position leading towards the final minutes of the game. A pair of early penalties early in the frame gave both teams the chance to score, but neither could capitalize on their respective opportunities.
Manitoba's momentum would improve significantly, as they would gain a number of chances on the rush to get quick pairs of shots off against Anderson before regrouping in the neutral zone. These shots would tally up quickly, as they would have as wide as a ten-shot advantage in the period over the Pronghorns.
With two minutes remaining, Lethbridge would opt to use their time-out, at which point Manitoba held a nine-shot third period lead over the home side. With Anderson pulled for the second night in a row, Lethbridge would have 48 seconds to find the scoresheet and send the game into overtime.
On a similar play to the night before, Jordan Doram would find an open Alli Borrow in front of Taraschuk, who would slide one beneath the legs of the Manitoba netminder to send the game to overtime.
Both teams would come out strong in the first overtime period, as each side would get a number of quality odd-man opportunities. Both goaltenders would stand strong and tall, as this game would see a second overtime period.
Lethbridge would come out strong, as Katelyn Breitkreuz would go coast-to-coast in the first minute to get a quality shot against Taraschuk, but the netminder would turn her aside with ease.
Gentile would get caught flat-footed by a breaking Bisons player, who would draw a tripping penalty on the play. Shortly after resuming play, the Bisons were quick to test Anderson once more, as a scramble in front resulting in two quick chances would end with the puck underneath the Lethbridge goaltender.
The Pronghorns defence would come up strong on the penalty kill, as the trio of defenders would block five shot attempts before Anderson could cover the puck, just before the penalty would expire.
Neither team would score in three-on-three overtime, so the game would require a shootout.
Shooting first for the Bisons would be Zacharias, who would cut wide on the Lethbridge net to force Anderson to make a sprawling attempt, but she would lift the puck well out of Anderson's reach, for the only goal in the shootout. Alanna Sharman would miss the Bisons second attempt, and all of Borrow, Mikaela Reay, and Kyra Grieg would be stopped by Taraschuk.
With the win, Manitoba sweeps the season series with the Pronghorns, and their record improves to 15-4-3-2 on the season. Lethbridge falls to 6-13-1-4, but get one point in their efforts to close the gap behind the sixth-placed Regina Cougars.
The Pronghorns will be back in action next Friday nigh, when they will take on the University of Alberta Pandas at the Nicholas Sheran Arena. Puck drop is at 7:00 PM. The Bisons return home to host the UBC Thunderbirds.
Photo by: MPP Photography