Bisons show signs of rust in tournament opener

No matter what anyone says, there’s always something to be said for playing three weeks and two-thousand kilometres away from one’s last game, especially against a desperate host-team reeling from a heart-breaking loss the night before. That was precisely the situation on Friday night for the University of Manitoba Bisons, and it showed as they fell 4-0 to the host Laurier Golden Hawks on day two of round robin action at the 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Women’s Hockey Championships.

“First game in [a few] weeks obviously affected us more than I thought it would,” commented Manitoba head coach Jon Rempel. “Our game is getting pucks deep, and cyclying and puck possession and we didn’t do any of that tonight. We were way too individual coming up the ice, we turned the puck over way too many times in the neutral; you cannot beat a team like Laurier when you do that.”

Bisons’ star goaltender Tara Lacquette was only average in the contest, getting lit up for four goals on 24 shots. The score-line was even more surprising as the Winnipeg-based outfit (and Lacquette) gave up only five goals total in their four previous playoff games this season.

“The game was fairly even territorially… but [we gave up] too many soft goals against.” Rempel added. You can’t give up goals like that in a tournament like this.”

After getting outshot 10-5, and outscored 1-0 in the first period, the herd came out much stronger in the second. They were engaging a little bit of the cycle game that had made them so successful in the Canada West playoffs, yet could not beat the unflappable Liz Knox in the Laurier net.

“I think we had trouble burying our chances and putting pucks in the net,” said Bison sophomore and Second Team All-Canadian defenceman Caitlin MacDonald. “Ultimately that was our downfall. All the goaltenders are very strong in this tournament; we need to shoot low and go for rebounds cause that is where we are going to have our most success.”
Manitoba’s special teams especially did not show up as they went 0-for-4 on the power play, while the Hawks went 2-for-3.

“[Laurier] played good,” the Herd’s head coach admitted. “They play a good team game, they were desperate, they needed to win tonight, and I think they did things harder than we did tonight.”

Two-point outings from Laurier rookies Tammy Freiburger and Andrea Shapero, as well as goals from sophomores Devon Skeats and Fiona Lester dug Caitlin MacDonald and company a big hole in the National Championships.

“Well we are playing [tomorrow] for pride I guess,” a disappointed coach Rempel concluded. “That’s really all we got left. When you let it get away on you like that in the first game, you basically play yourself right out of the tournament. It’s disappointing, but it’s a learning experience. A lot of young kids on this team – 14 first and second year kids – and that’s how you learn.”

It would take a miracle for the Canada West champion Bisons to make it to the final as they would need to defeat a very good St. FX squad, their opponent tomorrow evening, by no less than eight goals. Puck drops tomorrow night at 7:30 at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.

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