Puck Bisons pull one out of the fire
University of Manitoba’s women’s team survives late goal to win series in OT
NO one knows the University of Manitoba Bisons women’s hockey team better than the man who stands behind the bench.
So when the Bisons gave up the tying goal to the University of Alberta — on the road, no less — with just 13.9 seconds left in Sunday’s Canada West semifinal, head coach Jon Rempel’s faith in his crew did not waver. He’s seen the Bisons rally before, including eliminating the Saskatchewan Huskies in a five-OT thriller in the quarter-final last weekend.
That resilience was on display again in Edmonton Sunday afternoon, as the Bisons knocked off the 10th-ranked University of Alberta Pandas 4-3 courtesy Alexandra Anderson’s winner just 4:13 into extra time.
“We were obviously disappointed when they tied it up and we had the game under wraps,” said Rempel in a telephone interview from the Alberta capital. “But there was no panic on the bench. No one was throwing sticks, no one was kicking stuff.
“This is a very resilient and a very, very mentally strong group of kids. They’ve had a lot of adversity to deal with this year as a team and with some personal stuff. They’ve managed to come through everything this year together.”
A lot of that adversity came off the ice, with Rempel losing his father and defenceman Caitlin Fyten losing her dad, both to cancer, within the past seven months. But there can be a strength in team, and the Bison women found it from each other.
“It’s been an emotional year for a lot of us,” said Rempel. “It’s just one of those bonds that you have on a team and you draw strength from the people around you. That’s what has happened with this group this year and I couldn’t be more proud of the girls.
“These girls plays for each other. We had trouble finding our game. We could never get healthy, we could never get consistency. But we just battled and battled and got in. We hit our stride with about two weeks to go in the regular
‘You draw strength from the people around you… and I couldn’t be more proud of the girls’
season and started to feel better about our game and find our identity. It took us a long time, but we have it now and that can make us a very dangerous team in the playoffs.”
The Bisons, who also got goals from Kayleigh Wiens, Venla Hovi and Karissa Kirkup and 13 saves from Amanda Schubert, have now advanced to their second straight conference final. They will meet the eighth-ranked UBC Thunderbirds, who eliminated Regina Sunday.
WESMEN V’BALL PLAYOFF HOPES END: The Saskatchewan Huskies knocked off the University of Winnipeg men’s volleyball squad 3- 0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-18) Sunday afternoon in Canada West quarter-final action. The Huskies now advance to the conference Final Four next weekend in Alberta, joining the Golden Bears, Manitoba Bisons and Trinity Western Spartans.
David Bommersbach led the Wesmen in the loss, with 15 kills, two service aces and four blocks. Taylor Howe added 10 kills.
The Bisons, ranked third in the country, advanced after sweeping the 10th-ranked Mount Royal University Cougars 3-0 in quarter-final action at Investors Group Athletic Centre over the weekend. Devren Dear led the Bisons with 11 kills while Adam DeJonckheere had 10 and Josh Crellin added seven.
WESMEN HOOPS SQUAD FALLS SHORT: The U of W men’s basketball team is in next-year country after falling 75-69 in Regina in Game 3 of the Canada West play-in series. Winnipeg trailed by as much as 12 in the second half, and a late rally fell short against the Cougars. The Wesmen were led by Jelane Pryce, who had 19 points while Jamar Farley and Ryan Oirbans both added 17.
WRESTLERS BRING HOME THE HARDWARE: Three members of the U of W wrestling team came home from the national championships at Brock University with individual medals. Finn Higgins was named the 2016 CIS Outstanding Male Wrestler Male of the Year after defending his CIS title in the 100 -kg weight class, defeating Ignatius Pitt of Brock University in the gold-medal match. Aleksandr Sofronov won gold in the 76 -kg weight class, defeating Connor Hodgins of Calgary and Kyle Nguyen won bronze medal in the 120 -kg weight class. Nguyen was also honoured with the Community Service Award, a combination of academics, athletics and community service.
The Universit y of Winnipeg’s Kyle Nguyen (left) won bronze in his 120-kg weight class.
The University of Manitoba Bisons’ Karissa Kirkup made the twine bulge Sunday in Edmonton.