Following a back and forth 4-3 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds Friday evening in the first game of the Canada West Semifinals at the Wayne Fleming Arena in the U of M campus, the Herd picked up another one-goal victory on Saturday, propelling the Bisons to their second-straight Canada West Finals, while booking themselves a trip to Nationals in March.
After a high-scoring affair Friday – that saw Manitoba actually bounce back after giving up the first goal of the game on a deflection that bounced in off the skate of third-year defender Jenai Buchanan – the Bisons needed just two goals to finish off UBC Saturday. Both came off the stick of fifth-year forward Karissa Kirkup.
Just three minutes into the contest, Kirkup picked up the game’s opening goal on a backhand breakaway chance that beat Tory Micklash, handing Manitoba a 1-0 lead for the remainder of the first period. Less than two minutes into the second period, the visitors got on the board, as Ireland Perrott beat Lauren Taraschuk, knotting the game up at ones.
However, just 30 seconds later with Tiffany Chiu in the box for hooking, Kirkup collected her second goal of the game, redirecting a Lauryn Keen offering on a great setup play from Buchanan at the point. The Bisons and T-Birds played out the duration of the next 37 minutes without another goal, giving Manitoba the two-game sweep, eliminating UBC from the Canada West Playoffs.
Lauren Taraschuk stopped 14 of the 15 shots she faced, while Tory Micklash turned aside 19 of 21 Bison shots. After spreading the wealth with seven different point scorers in Friday’s contest, Kirkup’s two goals and Buchanan’s two assists led the way for Manitoba.
The University of Manitoba Bisons will now travel to Edmonton where the Herd will look to take down the number one ranked Alberta Pandas at the Clare Drake Arena in a best-of-three Canada West Finals matchup beginning Friday and Saturday, with a potential third game scheduled for Sunday.
The Bisons have lost all four games against Alberta this season, only being outscored by more than one goal on one occasion, with one of the games requiring double overtime to find a winner. Games one and two will see 8:00 PM central puck drops, while the potential tiebreaker will go at 7:00 PM. No matter the outcome of the Canada West Finals, U of M will travel to the University of Prince Edward Island for the U Sports Nationals, defending their 2018 championship title against the very best in the country beginning March 14th.