Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Ladies Get It Done

I can honestly say that there is nothing better than being at a hockey game. The smell of the arena, the cool temperature that hangs in the air, the sounds of pucks and sticks... it's like a symphony to me in terms of how immersed I get in the atmosphere. In saying that, it's always nice to see the home team come away with a win, and the University of Manitoba Bisons women's team was looking to sweep the weekend series with the Mount Royal Cougars. Having won on Friday night, the women were looking to move to 3-2-1 on the season by taking Saturday's game from the Cougars.

The Bisons women's team debuted their new home jerseys last night, and I'll say up front that I am a fan. They are clean, they are traditional, and they look beautiful. There is something to be said for shoulder-arm stripes and hem stripes in terms of making the jersey look like a proper hockey jersey. The men don't wear them, and I'm not really a fan of their look. But the women? I'll watch them any day of the week in these uniforms.

The only quibble? The sleeve numbers are white on gold, but the numbers sometimes bleed back onto the white portion of the sleeve. But if that's all I have to complain about, these jerseys are pretty solid. So it needs to be said: well done, ladies! You look fantastic!

The Bisons used a fantastic start to help them in their race to victory on Saturday. Alana Serhan scored just 1:06 into the first period with her first goal of the season as she tipped Meagan Vestby's shot past Cougar goalie Katie Sigurdson. Sirhan then doubled that lead three minutes later when she again tipped a Vestby shot on net for her second goal of the night and second of the season. And with just over ten minutes to play in the first period, Maggie Litchfield-Medd scored her team-leading fourth goal of the season, finishing off a fantastic shift for her line as they pinned Mount Royal in their zone for over a minute.

Mount Royal, finding themselves in a hole, opted to change goalies as Sigurdson headed to the bench after making just two saves on five shot in favor of Jessica Ross. The Bisons still peppered Ross, but she was equal to the task in keeping the Bisons off the board for the remainder of the game, stopping all 23 shots thrown her way. At the other end, Amanda Schubert played a flawless game thanks in part to her defence in front of her, and she stopped all twenty shots for the shutout victory.

The one thing that stood out all night for me? The Cougars have a centerman named Reanna Arnold. She's fast, she's talented, and she play the game hard. But she stood out for a different reason. She has white skates! And not just some white on her skate - like WHITE skates. Every time she was on the ice, it reminded me of Sergei Fedorov in the 1990s when he wore white skates with the Red Wings. She has the speed and puck-handling to resemble Fedorov, but she couldn't replicate his scoring ability on this night.

The other thing that stood out? The Cougars all wore a patch on the back of their right hips that looked like this. Granted, with the number of Cougars that preferred to tuck their jerseys inside their pants (hear that, NHL?), there were few opportunities to grab a picture of this patch actually on the jersey. Mount Royal University is in Calgary, so what's the tie-in with the Flames?

According to this info on the Calgary Flames site, "[e]very season the Flames Foundation for Life support the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University and SAIT hockey programs and award Harley Hotchkiss scholarships". So it appears that in honour of the scholarships bestowed upon the University, the Cougars hockey team wears the patches to reflect this benefit from the Flames. A fair trade, I'd say.

If I had to pick three stars tonight, Alana Sirhan would get the first star for her two-goal performance. Meagan Vestby was all over the ice last night, picking up a pair of assists and a penalty for some aggressive play, and would be my second star. The third star would be Amanda Schubert for closing the doors on Mount Royal with her twenty-save shutout performance.

The Bisons move to 3-2-1 on the season with the win while Mount Royal falls to 1-5-0 on the season. Manitoba sits tied for fourth in the Canada West Conference, tied with the UBC Thunderbirds at 3-2-1. They trail the 5-1-0 Regina Cougars by three points for top spot, and will play the 2-3-1 Calgary Dinos next weekend.

With no Hayley Wickenheiser this season, the Dinos appear to have fallen back to Earth after a successful season last year, but they can't be taken lightly. The Bisons will have to execute as well as they did this weekend to continue to move up the standings.

Congratulations to the Bisons women's team as they swept the weekend series with Mount Royal, and looked fantastic in doing so with their new uniforms!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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