The blaring in Wayne Fleming Arena over the weekend was not the goal horn. Somebody hit the panic button for the U of M Bisons women’s hockey team.
In a battle for second last in the conference, the herd hosted the University of Regina Cougars for a two-game set. Manitoba failed to score in either contest and was swept at home.
With the loss, Manitoba — losers of five straight — now sits last in the conference with seven points through 10 games. Regina moves into seventh with its wins.
Bisons head coach Jon Rempel is not ready to panic just yet, and insisted the club is playing well but not getting bounces.
“We’re doing the right things and we’re playing well,” he said.
“We’re not getting rewarded but you’ve got to make your own luck and you’ve got to create your own bounces because […] the game sometimes gives you stuff and sometimes it doesn’t, and when it doesn’t give you anything you better find a way to get your own.”
It was not the best homecoming for the Bisons to start the weekend. In just the third home contest for the herd, it played tepid and came out flat in a 1-0 loss to the Cougars.
Offence was nearly non-existent for Manitoba in the first, as the club found it difficult to move the puck up in transition and get consistent time in the offensive zone. Passes were missed, entries were stifled and Manitoba rarely got through the neutral zone.
Regina meanwhile found the back of the net late in the opening frame.
Jaycee Magwood curled around the bottom of the right faceoff dot and threaded the needle to Paige Hubbard who chopped it past Amanda Schubert for the 1-0 Regina lead in the first.
Regina came down the ice on a two-on-one a few seconds later, but Schubert stood tall to keep it a one-goal game.
“I think she’s starting to really feel comfortable now after — what are we at here now, nine games, I guess she’s played about five,” Rempel said of Schubert.
“She gave us a chance every time she’s been in the net this year, so I can’t really ask for more than that […] Really happy with what she’s done.”
Manitoba’s best chance of the first came late on the power play.
Jenai Buchanan picked up the puck in the faceoff circle and sliced through the Cougars penalty killers for a shot in tight. Regina netminder Jane Kish met her high and made the stop, sending her club into the intermission ahead.
The Bisons came out with some jump in the second, outshooting Regina 9-4 in the frame, but got nothing by Kish.
At the other end Schubert remained the best Bison on the ice in the third period, stretching out to make a toe save on Merissa Zerr off a cross-ice pass. She kept Manitoba in the game and the Cougars at bay, but her team did nothing with the support.
Magwood found iron on the empty net and Manitoba could not solve Kish en route to a 1-0 loss.
The offensive issues continued Saturday, as the herd failed to score in its fourth straight contest, losing to Regina 1-0 in overtime.
Both clubs struggled to move the puck up the ice and establish pressure in the offensive zone. The lack of flow continued from Friday for the Bisons, with only Buchanan able to consistently drive play.
After a sleepy first frame Sarah Dennehy almost broke the goose egg for Manitoba. She cut through to the slot and ripped a shot on goal, but found iron, eliciting a groan from the crowd and keeping the game notched 0-0.
The scoreless drought continued into the third, where Buchanan had a chance to end it late, breaking into the zone and charging the Regina goal. With a Cougars defender dragging her down, she got a hard shot away, only to be stopped by Kish.
Rempel said Buchanan has been “good from day one.”
“She’s probably been one of our most consistent performers this year and she took it upon herself in the summer to really get fit, and I think that’s what you’re seeing there.”
Despite a power play and numerous chances in the dying seconds for Manitoba, the game remained tied through regulation and headed to overtime, where Tamara McVannel snuck a shot by Erin Fargey to win it.
The herd remains at home for next week, when it takes on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Nov. 15 and 16. Puck drop for game one is 7 p.m. CST and 4 p.m. CST for game two.