Bears and Bisons do battle in Alberta

Men’s hockey team split games against reigning champs

The University of Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team was back on the road in Alberta this weekend to face off against the defending CIS champion Alberta Golden Bears.

The visitors lost a heartbreaker on Friday night in overtime by a score of 3-2. They then bounced back and won 3-2 in the rematch.

In a wild game, the Bisons and the Bears put on quite a show for the fans. Alberta found themselves with a two-goal lead midway through the third and thought it was all done and dusted.

Then Shaq Merasty happened. The Bears were not prepared for the show the six-foot-five power forward was about to put on.

With seven minutes remaining in the third period, Merasty cut the Golden Bears’ lead in half through a power play goal. Five minutes later, Merasty would get his second on the night to tie the game up for the Bisons. Momentum was on Manitoba’s side heading into overtime.

It was not to be, however, as Jamie Crooks scored two minutes into the second frame of overtime to save the game for the Bears and secure two points.

Justin Paulic once again put on a fantastic performance in the crease, recording an astonishing 42 saves, and was a big reason the Bisons were able to stay in the game.

The first-year player out of Thompson is putting up impressive numbers this year, with a 0.914 save percentage and a 2.86 goals against average.

After a crushing loss the night prior, Manitoba was out for revenge in the second game. It looked like another rough start for the herd, as Alberta managed to get on the board first, five minutes into the first period.

Brett Brooks must have eaten what Merasty had on Friday because he decided he wanted some time in the limelight. He scored his first on the night three minutes after the Bears opened things up, and then added his second goal with four minutes remaining in the first period to give the herd the lead.

The two goals broke a seven-game point drought the rookie was enduring.

The Golden Bears made a late comeback, equalizing with three minutes to go in the final frame. Manitoba answered back quickly, though, as captain Jordan DePape fired home yet another game winner – his team-leading fifth goal, with just 12 seconds remaining in the game.

DePape now leads the league in points with 14, and has not missed a beat after his stellar performance against Calgary the week prior – where he was named Canada West male third star of the week.

After this weekend’s action, the Bisons sit at an even 5-5 record and are fourth place in the conference. They are one point behind the Golden Bears in the standings and will hope to leapfrog them next weekend at home against the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Lethbridge is second-last in the conference, but they have won their last two games, so nothing is guaranteed.