Prying for position

Men’s hockey splits series with UBC, still one point back

Photo credit to Carolyne Kroeker

Returning from winter break, the University of Manitoba Bisons and UBC Thunderbirds found themselves right beside each other in the standings. The Thunderbirds held a one-point lead for the fifth spot, and that didn’t change this past weekend as the two squads split the opening series of 2015.

Showing their resilience, the Bisons overcame a sluggish start on Saturday night to capture a 3-1 victory. Manitoba received goals from three different lines, while goalie Deven Dubyk again proved why he is one of the top goaltenders in the conference, with a 35-save performance.

The University of British Columbia set the tempo early in the first 20 seconds of the opening frame and didn’t let up for all 20 minutes, en route to a 1-0 lead heading into the break. Their lone goal was scored at 15:19, on a Manraj Hayer power play goal.

Manitoba could have easily been down by five or six if not for the play of Dubyk, who made 12 saves in the period, including an impressive stop on a 3-on-1.

The Bisons were able to muster just five shots in the first, as the Thunderbirds did an effective job keeping Manitoba to the outside, not letting them get any quality shots or second chance rebounds.

The second proved to be the definitive period. The Bisons scored three goals in just over two minutes to not only take the lead but also the momentum for the remainder of the game.

Chad Robinson was the first to solve UBC goalie Eric Williams, crashing the net and slipping a loose puck in at 5:16. Brett Dudar would then score the game-winning goal at 6:42, stealing a puck at the Bison blue line and using his speed to race in on a breakaway, finishing with a wrist shot top shelf that Williams never had a chance at blocking.

Jesse Paradis would cap the scoring spree less than a minute later on another wrister, after the Bisons sped in on an odd man rush.

The third period saw a total of five penalties; however, neither team was able to cash in with the extra man. The Thunderbirds had a chance on the power play with 5:08 left to make things interesting, but Dubyk shut the door with three consecutive stops in tight to preserve the victory.

The Bison goaltender improved his save percentage to .932, good for a share of fourth in the CIS. Despite his success, Dubyk was quick to praise his teammates postgame.

“I usually just play my game. The team helps me out a lot,” Dubyk said. “It’s not just my play that’s helping the team win, it’s the defensive play, and just our team-minded game. When we play like that, we’re good to go.”

Sunday afternoon’s rematch was an entirely different story, with a combined 14 goals finding the back of the net. In a wild affair, UBC was able to pull out the 8-6 win.

Cole Wilson of the Thunderbirds registered a hat trick, scoring two of his three goals in the third period, including the game winner, at 14:14.

The two teams were deadlocked at five heading into the final frame. The Thunderbirds took a 4-2 lead into the first intermission, but Manitoba responded with three goals in the second to tie things up entering the last 20 minutes.

That’s where Wilson took over, scoring the first goal of the period at 9:41 and following it up just under five minutes later, after Jordan DePape had tied things up at 13:23.

Along with Wilson five different UBC players found the back of the net, while Manitoba countered with two goals from Robinson and single tallies from Dudar, Darren Bestland, Aaron Lewadniuk, and DePape.

Next up for Manitoba is a tilt with the last place Lethbridge Pronghorns. Game times are 7 and 1 p.m. on Jan. 9 and 10, respectively, at Wayne Fleming Arena.