Friday, 22 May 2020

Bisons Rewind: The New Queens

We're back with some more fun this weekend as Bisons Rewind returns to HBIC! If you missed last weekend's games, we highlighted the game where Tara Slone joined TJ and I in calling a period of hockey before posting both Game One and Game Two of the Canada West Final in 2018 that saw Manitoba capture its third Canada West title over the Saskatchewan Huskies. Both teams would earn berths at the U SPORTS National Championship in London, Ontario where glory would be bestowed upon the team who captured three-straight victories, and that's where we'll pick this Bisons Rewind up as the Manitoba Bisons began their quest for a gold medal!

As you might be aware, U SPORTS ensures that two teams from the same conference can't meet one another in the first two rounds of the national women's hockey tournament. They seed teams accordingly to facilitate this, and I have to admit that I'm a fan of this idea in order to truly name a national champion. In saying that, Manitoba entered the tournament as the top-seeded team in the nation, so we knew that the only guarantee was that Saskatchewan would be ranked sixth or seventh nationally in order to avoid the Bisons in the semifinal.

The St. Mary's Huskies would win the AUS and finish the season as the second-ranked team after Manitoba ousted the second-ranked Alberta Pandas in the Canada West Semifinal. Western would rank as the fourth-seeded team after upsetting Queen's in the OUA while Concordia, who beat Montreal for the RSEQ title, would jump into the fourth seed. StFX would grab the fifth seed as the AUS finalist after falling to St. Mary's. Montreal, who was ranked as high as fourth on February 27, 2018, would slot into the sixth spot as the RSEQ finalist, moving Saskatchewan to the seventh seed since they couldn't meet Manitoba. Queen's, who had been ranked as high as fifth nationally on March 6, dropped down to the eighth seed, setting up a date with the Canada West champion Manitoba Bisons.

I'll admit that we looked into the Queen's Golden Gaels quite a bit before going to air on this one. Katrina Manoukarakis - a name I struggled with all game, for some reason - came into the quarterfinal match-up having scoring 16 goals on the season, but had scored just once in the OUA playoffs. She was, however, the OUA MVP and the OUA Forward of the Year, so we knew the Bisons couldn't sleep on her despite her slight scoring slump as she came into the game.

Clare McKellar was the other half of the dynamic duo, and she was the setup player for Manoukarakis, scoring just four times, but recording 17 assists on the season. McKellar skated well, used her agility and stick-handling to get through tight spaces with the puck, and had excellent vision in feeding her teammates for goals. McKellar had also found a slump in the playoffs as she had a total of zero points through the OUA tournament, so the last thing Manitoba wanted to do was let her find her scoring touch again.

One of the things that I pointed out in last week's Bisons Rewind articles was the depth scoring that Manitoba had throughout its roster, and it will come back into play today. Nicole Carswell was knocked out of Game Two against Saskatchewan with an injury, but that opened a spot up for Mekaela Fisher to return to the Bisons lineup. Alison Sexton remained in the lineup, and the Bisons still had more weapons at their disposal with Émilie Massé, Brielle Dacquay-Neveux, and Madi Cole awaiting their shots as they watched from the sidelines as rookies.

I will say that there's three minutes of time in the first period where we lose the feed. This was because we were wired into the Western University internet to broadcast this game via the UMFM Second Stream as well as sending it back to the studio, and Western cut our internet as they flagged our computer as being "not authorized" on their network!

After some quick scrambling to find their IT people and having those people make a couple of changes, we were back on the air. You'll hear the tape screech over those three minutes of time, but there were no goals scored in that period where we got bumped off the air.

Without further adieu, here is the UMFM broadcast of quarterfinal game between the eighth-ranked Queen's Golden Gaels and the top-ranked Manitoba Bisons from March 16, 2018 at the U SPORTS National Women's Hockey Championship in London, Ontario!

Game Notes

  • As noted, the Saskatchewan Huskies downed the St. Mary's Huskies in a 7-over-2 upset on Thursday with a 3-2 victory. Canada West meant business at this tournament with the Huskies and Bisons representing the conference.
  • Western, who won the OUA, continued to add to Montreal's misery by hammering them by a 4-0 score to set up one side of the semifinal as Western and Saskatchewan would meet on Saturday.
  • Personally, the power-play goal that Alanna Sharman scored just after the second period started felt like it changed the game in a big way. While I wouldn't say to took the wind out of the sails for Queen's, it certainly seemed like Manitoba settled into their game which spelled bad news for the Golden Gaels.
  • The Bisons only had seven power-play opportunities through the Canada West playoffs leading into the national tournament, so going 2-for-3 against the nation's best penalty-killing team shows that preparation and execution matter.
  • I know we don't talk about her enough, but Lauren Warkentin was an absolute beast as a rookie in this tournament.
  • This was certainly one of the biggest goaltending match-ups all season long as Lauren Taraschuk - 5'11" - faced off against Stephanie Pascal - 5'10"- in the Queen's crease.
  • As stated, Queen's was a big, big team. Of their entire 2017-18 roster, they had only five players under 5'6" tall. Their shortest goaltender was Claire Warren at 5'8" with rookie and third-string netminder Makenzy Arsenault towering in at 6'0".
  • Queen's was truly an Ontario team with only two players coming to the team from places not found in Ontario.
With Manitoba prevailing on Friday, they would move onto the semifinal where they would meet one of Concordia or StFX, and we'll get everyone updated on that next game tomorrow when Bisons Rewind continues!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

No comments: