This past weekend, the University of Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team faced off at home against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in a two-game set. They were dominated in the opening game on Saturday 4-2 but battled back on Sunday afternoon to grab a 3-2 win in a second overtime.
The story of the night for the Bisons was special teams. They had four power plays, but were unable to cash in on any of them – including a lengthy five-on-three in the third period.
The Thunderbirds, on the other hand, capitalized on their only power play chance off a nice shot from the top of the wheelhouse via the stick of Scott MacDonald.
UBC opened the scoring five minutes into the first period off a scrappy rebound goal from speedy forward Anthony Bardaro. Manitoba generated a few chances of their own, including a Warren Callis breakaway, but was stymied by Thunderbirds goalie Eric Williams.
The visitors jumped out to a two-goal lead early in the second, with MacDonald getting his first of two on the night. Manitoba was able to answer six minutes later, as rookie Liam Bilton shelfed a pass from fellow rookie Jonah Wasylak to make it a one-point game.
The Bisons’ momentum didn’t last long, as UBC scored 19 seconds into their first and only power play. They say that a two-goal lead is the worst lead in hockey to have, and that was the differential going into the second intermission.
The second period was a tight physical battle with both goaltenders making great saves. The middle period started off with a flurry of Bison power plays, including another five-on-three, but they couldn’t convert despite generating lots of chances.
Late in the second, UBC goalie Matt Hewitt made the save of the game on a Warren Callis penalty shot to keep the score tied.
Manitoba came out flying in the third period and were rewarded when DePape got his second on the night, 57 seconds in, firing a low hard shot on Hewitt. UBC answered two minutes later off a short side snipe by Austin Vetterl.
After three periods, the two teams were in a deadlock.
The first overtime saw lots of chances, but nothing came of it. It took 24 seconds into the second overtime period for the home side to find the breakthrough.
Winger Shaq Merasty picked up the puck in the neutral zone and came in on a two-on-one with defenceman Adam Henry. Merasty made a beautiful feed to Henry, and he made no mistake, securing the 3-2 win.
Head coach Mike Sirant talked post-game about the way the team performed on Sunday, claiming that this was their best game of the year.
“It was the best game of the season for us,” Sirant said. “It was a team win – all forward lines made contributions. It’s a good team win.”
Manitoba snapped their three game losing streak with the win on Sunday and improve to 2-3-1 on the year. Manitoba heads to Calgary next weekend to take on the Dinos, who are 3-2-1.