Happy New Year for Bison women’s hockey team

The Manitoba Bisons and Regina Cougars women’s hockey teams met at the University of Manitoba’s Max Bell Centre for two weekend games on Friday Jan. 6 and Saturday Jan. 7. On Friday, the Bisons won 2-0 in a close game. The game on Saturday was even closer, as both teams were pushed to their limits in a battle for two valuable points in the Canada West standings.

From the drop of the puck at 7 p.m., the Cougars aggressively attacked the Bisons net. Only 1:18 into the first period, the Bisons were penalized for body checking, but the Cougars were unable to score on Bison goalie Tara Lacquette during the resulting power play. The early penalty seemed to set the tone for the rest of the period, 16 total minutes of penalties were shared by both teams — five penalties were handed out to the Bisons and three to the Cougars.

The Bisons scored the first goal of the game, at 8:44 in the first period, on a nice wrist shot by Jessica Carswell, assisted by Chantal DeSpiegelaere. The Cougars had more shots on the Bison net before the Bison tally, but the goal seemed to give the home team confidence. They became more aggressive and started to take more chances and shots on the Cougars net.

The aggression did not let up in the second period as the physical play picked up. The Bisons pushed hard at the start of the frame. They brought the play to the Cougars’ net multiple times in the opening moments of the period. However, the Bisons would once again find themselves in penalty troubles. The Cougars pushed back, Carleen Meszaros scoring on the power play with a booming shot from the point at 11:58, with assists coming from Brooklyn Moskowy and Hillary Lerat.

Heading into the third period, the game remained tied 1-1

“The flow of the game has been disturbed to a great extent by the number of penalties called,” a Cougar fan in attendance commented, “which makes it difficult for either team to create any consistency in their game.”

Aggressive play continued during the third period. Manitoba looked to seal their second victory in as many nights as the refs seemed to put their whistles away for the remainder of the game. The Bisons’ aggressive play paid off again at 10:04 when Bison Nellie Minshull managed to outsmart the goalie and sneak the puck into the net for the game-winning goal.

With the win, the Bisons are tied for fourth in the Canada West standings with 20 points; only four points back from the conference leading Saskatchewan Huskies.

After the game, Bison head coach Jon Rempel explained what went right for the Bisons,

“We gave them very few scoring chances all weekend, our goaltending was solid,” said Rempel, who also commented on what could be improved on by the Bisons: “Our power play needs to be better and it needs to cash in and give us more momentum.

“We have to play tight defensively, we can’t give teams many goals, we’re not a high scoring team this year and that’s just the way it is. When we goal defensively we have to continue to try and roll shifts together.”

Cougars head coach Sarah Hodges stated: “We were definitely trying to play more physical today, and the Bisons were being very deliberate in their attack. I think they are being cautious and patient, and that patience will pay off in the long run.”

The Bisons will next play the No.1 CanWest ranked Huskies at the University of Saskatchewan Jan. 20 and 21. The Cougars will be hosting two games in Regina against the UBC Thunderbirds Jan. 13 and 14.