Herd raise banners and rise to the occasion

Manitoba takes home opener over Calgary

The 2017-2018 Manitoba Bisons' women hockey championship banner is unveiled prior to the game against the Calgary Dinos, Friday, October 5, 2018. (Trevor Hagan / Manitoba Bisons)

The U of M Bisons women’s hockey team began their national title defence Friday night with a 3-1 win over the University of Calgary Dinos.

The Bisons unveiled the club’s conference and national championship banners during a pregame ceremony. The herd looked jittery early, following the evening’s festivities, but settled down and dominated the rest of the way.

“We handled it how we expected to handle it,” Bison women’s hockey interim head coach Sean Fisher said postgame.

“You know, coming off the emotions and the distractions and the white noise and all that stuff.”

The game started poorly for the defending champs. A shot led to a scramble in front of the Bison net and goalie Lauren Taraschuk slid out of position. Elizabeth Lang pounced on the loose puck and gave Calgary an early 1-0 lead.

The Dinos’ advantage did not last long, as the Bisons scored the equalizer on the powerplay minutes later.

With pressure in the Dinos zone, Jordyn Zacharias peeled off the half-wall and dropped the puck to Lauren Warkentin. Her point shot was deflected in front by Sheridan Oswald and past Kelsey Roberts to tie the game at 1-1 in the first.

Manitoba poured it on in the second. Zacharias came out of the corner and cut in front of the Dinos net, tucking a shot five-hole on Roberts for a 2-1 lead.

Madison Cole “and the other girl were fighting for the puck, but the puck was up on the dasher like flat on top,” Zacharias said.

“So I just picked it up off there with my stick, did a little fake inside, walked around the [defence] and then used her as a screen.”

A few minutes later, Lauryn Keen got her first to extend the lead. Jenai Buchanan picked off an outlet pass at the Dinos blue-line, walked in and sent a shot on goal. Roberts kicked the rebound right onto Keen’s stick and she made it 3-1 Bisons.

The herd will look for the season opening sweep against the Calgary Dinos, today at 2 p .m. CDT.