A successful return

Bisons sweep Cougars to start second half of the season

The Manitoba Bison men’s hockey team did not disappoint in their first home games of 2014. They took all four points against the Mount Royal Cougars in a weekend set.

Special teams were the difference in the first game on Friday; Manitoba was 2-for-5 on the power play while Mount Royal went an abysmal 0-for-8 with the man advantage, and the Bisons emerged with a 5-2 victory.

Both teams combined for  11 shots in the first period, with just one attempt finding the back of the net. Aaron Lewadniuk capitalized on a 2-on-1, sliding the puck past the Cougars’ Dalyn Flette at the 11:30 mark. The team-leading goal was his ninth of the season.

The second period opened with a flurry of action. Mount Royal dictated the play early. Cody Cartier scored off a deflection, putting the Cougars onto the scoreboard at 7:42. Manitoba regained the lead as Jordan DePape squeaked a backhand past Flette with just over five minutes left in the period. The lead was short-lived, as the Cougars tied the game little more than a minute later.

Overall, the Bisons were outplayed in the second. The Cougars outshot the Bisons 13-8 in the period. The game was tied up at two, heading into the third.

Manitoba capitalized on their power play in the final 20 minutes, converting twice in the first 10 minutes. Ian Duval got the first power play goal at 4:44, with Luke Paulsen adding to the lead at 7:50 on a nice one-timer off a Brendan Rowinski pass.

Mount Royal had an excellent opportunity to get back into the game at 13:05 of the third. A pair of minor penalties gave the Cougars a full two minutes of 5-on-3; however, Bison goalie Joe Caligiuri shut the door. DePape added an empty net goal in the final minute, putting the Bisons at 5-2 for the victory.

Caligiuri was the difference for the Bisons, stopping 31 of 33 shots in the win. At the other end, Flette made 28 saves for the Cougars in the loss.

Head coach Mike Sirant had nothing but positive things to say about Caligiuri after the game.

“Joe was outstanding tonight. He has been very good for us this year, making the saves he’s supposed to, and stepping up and making big saves in key points during the game.”

The two teams met for a matinee game at 1 p.m. the following day, with Manitoba securing a 5-3 win.

Neither team managed much offensively to start the game. Despite registering only four shots in the first period, the Bisons took the lead at 12:39. Craig Scott potted the puck off a mad scramble in the Cougar zone.

Mount Royal had 55 seconds with a 5-on-3 power play within the final five minutes of the period, but again managed very little. The Bison defence, led by captain Dane Crowley, shut down any opportunities.

Both teams’ goal scorers got going in the second period. A combined five goals were scored in the first 10 minutes.

Just 47 seconds into the period, Tyler Fiddler utilized his excellent speed and stickhandling, beating Caligiuri and tying the game 1-1. Manitoba retook the lead at 4:03 on the power play, as Lewadniuk continued his strong season with a tic-tac-toe goal. Duval added to the Bison lead, scoring shorthanded at 5:57 as he raced down the right side and slid a brilliant wraparound past Flette. Jesse Paradis continued the Bisons’ scoring burst with his seventh of the season at 7:19, giving the Bisons a massive 4-1 lead.

To the Cougars’ credit, they did not shy away. Fiddler took matters into his own hands, deking out almost the entire Manitoba team and narrowing the score to 4-2 heading into the third.

Mount Royal came out aggressive in the third, cutting the Bison lead with a goal that went in off of a deflection. It was not enough, as Manitoba held on the rest of the way, grabbing an empty net goal in the final 40 seconds from Luke Cain to secure the 5-3 victory.

“It was really good for us to get the four points, and get some momentum behind us as we head into a big series next weekend against Calgary,” said coach Sirant after the game.

Manitoba (9-9-2) will now travel to face top-ranked Calgary in a crucial weekend set, while Mount Royal (6-11-1) will venture to Regina to play the other Cougar hockey team in the Canada West conference.


photo by beibei lu

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