Saturday, 17 March 2018

Game Day Saturday

There's an old saying that goes, "If you mess with the bull, you get the horns." Well, the Bisons weren't messing around last night with the Gaels as they laid the horns to them in what most would say was a full sixty-minute game from the top-seeded team. At the end of the mostly one-sided game, Manitoba skated to a 4-0 victory and advanced to the U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship semifinal where they are now guaranteed to play for a medal. Which colour, you ask? Well, that will be determined in their game tonight. A win puts them in the gold medal game while a loss would send them to the bronze medal game.

Before we get to who they play, Manitoba looked every bit like the top-seeded team in this tournament in their opening game. Courtlyn Oswald scored the opening goal on a deflection as she redirected Alana Serhan's shot past Stephanie Pascal midway through the first period, and, if you'll excuse the pun, the Bisons were off and running.

A power-play goal by Alanna Sharman at 1:42, another solid deflection by Alexandra Anderson off a Sharman shot at 18:43, and a second power-play goal from Lauryn Keen on a beautiful snap-pass from Lauren Warkentin at 19:44 put the Bisons out in front 4-0, and it was virtually over with just one period remaining.

Caitlin Fyten spoke to reporters after the game about the importance of establishing the power-play early in this tournament.

"I think it's really important for us," she stated, "especially because coming before here, we didn't get a lot of power-play opportunities, so to get it rolling off this first game here is huge for us going forward."

The Bisons only had seven power-play opportunities through the Canada West playoffs, so to strike twice on three opportunities against the nation's best penalty-killing team shows that the preparation put in by the Bisons is paying off in big ways.

So the only question that remains is who are they preparing for this evening in the semifinal?

The RSEQ champion Concordia Stingers met the AUS finalist St. Francis Xavier X-Women, and this one was just as one-sided as the Manitoba-Queen's game. It was 2-0 for Concordia after one period - a not-insurmountable lead for StFX to overcome - but it was extended to 3-0 before Kate Gotaas scored at 7:14 to make it 3-1. Cue the comeback, right?

Five straight goals in the remaining 31 minutes of the game saw Concordia absolutely thrash the X-Women by an 8-1 score. And like the score, the possession numbers and shot total were heavily slanted towards the Concordia side. The Stingers brought their A-games to Thompson Arena last night, and they earned their spot in the semifinal after bouncing the other AUS team to the consolation side.

Tonight, as it stands, will see the Saskatchewan Huskies battle the hometown Western Mustangs in the 4pm ET semifinal while the Manitoba Bisons will grapple with the Concordia Stingers in the later semifinal at 7pm ET. Both games should be exciting, and we're already looking forward to a potential Canada West gold medal final!

Before we get too far with putting the cart before the horse, though, let's get you set for tonight's battle between the Bisons and Stingers. You can listen on your radio in the Winnipeg region on 101.5 FM as TJ and myself broadcast live from London starting with the UMSU Pregame Show at 5:30pm CT/6:30pm ET. If you're outside the Winnipeg region, you can use the UMFM app on your smartphone or tablet that is available for iDevices or for Android devices! If you're near a computer or laptop, you can catch the game via the website or via the UMFM Second Stream!

In other words, there isn't anywhere on this planet where you can't hear the Bisons and Stingers play tonight as this is literally the biggest game of the season for the Manitoba Bisons. Find yourself an audio-enabled device, and get your fill tonight as the Bisons look for a gold medal berth at the 2018 U SPORTS National Women's Ice Hockey Championship!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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