Written by: Ryan Stelter
WINNIPEG – On Friday Feb.17, the #5 Manitoba Bisons and Mount Royal Cougars took to the ice at the Wayne Fleming Arena for their first game of a best-of-three women's hockey series in the Canada West Quarter-finals. The Bisons took game one by a score of 5-1 and lead the Quarter-final series 1-0.
A hard fought game between Mount Royal and Manitoba saw the Bisons explode for three goals in the third period that saw them push past the Cougars. Karissa Kirkup scored the eventual game winner in highlight reel fashion in the second period, the first of two goals.
The game started off with the Bisons applying a lot of pressure, and being rewarded for their efforts three minutes in. A failed Mount Royal clearing attempt had the puck end up on Bison captain Caitlin Fyten's stick. She settled it down and ripped a shot on goal, and Finnish forward Venla Hovi tipped the puck past third year goaltender Emma Pincott.
Mount Royal got some good opportunities towards the end of the frame, but Rachel Dyck stood firm in the Bison crease.
The Cougars drew level on the powerplay after Gabrielle Seper came streaking through the Bisons slot and had what looked like a pass beat Dyck. The faceoff after, Seper had two glorious opportunities to make it 2-1 but Dyck made some great saves to keep it even. The Bisons then came blistering in on an odd man rush, but Jenai Buchanan hit the post.
Late in the second, Kirkup put the Bisons up 2-1 in with a phenomenal goal. Kirkup chipped the puck past a Cougar defender, cut across the slot on her backhand and roofed it over Pincott.
"[Kirkup] played with speed, played with tenacity," Bisons head coach Jon Rempel said post game. "Played with creativity, passion, played with heart. She's a highly skilled player when you combine those attributes."
Halfway through the third period, Kirkup put the Bisons up by a pair. Kirkup came in on the rush, stopped at the face-off dot and fired a shot through Pincott. A few minutes later, the Bisons scored a shorthanded goal via the stick of Nicole Carswell. The fourth year forward just tapped the puck home after Alanna Sharman showed great patience on a 2-on-1 to slide the puck over to her.
Alexandra Anderson made it 5-1 with four minutes remaining with a blast from the point. Despite the loss, the Cougars outshot the hometown Bisons 27-25, and even with the lopsided score line, the play indicated a tighter checking game.
"I think our offensive skill took over in that one, I think we sort of got a way with one a little bit," Rempel said after the game.
The Bisons and Cougars take to the ice for game two on Saturday Feb.18 at the Wayne Fleming Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. CST.