Manitoba Bisons & Regina 2 game Series

Manitoba Bisons Two Game Series vs The Regina Cougars —

Game 1 

Manitoba -1   Regina – 3

Unfortunately for the Manitoba Bisons, they ran into a hot goaltender on Friday, January 31, as the Regina Cougars took the first game of the two-game weekend series 3-1 at the Wayne Fleming Arena.
Cougars goaltender Andrew Hayes was phenomenal from beginning to end, stopping 41 of the Bisons 42 shots to lead his team to a win despite a 42-22 shot differential in favor of Manitoba.  With the loss, the Manitoba Bisons drop to 9-11-3, while the Cougars move to 10-11-2 and a one-point lead on Manitoba in the standings.
The Manitoba Bisons certainly weren’t lacking scoring chances, and as the team moves towards tomorrow’s rematch, head coach Mike Sirant says his team simply needs to capitalize.
“If we capitalize on some of our chances, that changes the complexion of the entire game,” says Sirant.  “You have to give (Regina) credit, they played a perfect road game.  They had excellent goaltending, but they capitalized on their chances, and obviously we didn’t do that tonight.”
The first period saw a lot of action, but thanks to solid goaltending, no team was able to get on the board.  Although Regina was ahead in the shot differential after the first, it was the home team that held the majority of the scoring chances.
Unfortunately for Manitoba, Hayes started out hot right out the gate, stopping two breakaway chances from Dylan Kelly and another from Jordan DePape.  The best chance of the period belonged to DePape, who made a beautiful move to throw off Hayes, but just rang it off the crossbar in what looked like a sure goal. 

To put it simply, the second period belonged to Hayes.  With the Manitoba Bisons outshooting Regina 16-10, the home team controlled the pace offensively throughout a lot of the period and it was Hayes who put his team on the right track.
With massive saves on breakaways, 2-on-1’s, and scrambles in front of the net, Hayes was tremendous in the second and his teammates took notice.  The first response came just over a minute into the period.  After Hayes made a big save in the other end, the Cougars moved the puck into the Bisons zone where it was Troy Hunter who found the loose puck in front to give his team the 1-0 lead.
After the Manitoba Bisons continued to struggle in finding an answer for Hayes in the second, the Cougars capitalized once again with just over two minutes left in the period.  In a similar fashion as the first goal, this one came on another loose puck, but this time it was Ian McNulty who made Manitoba pay, making it 2-0 going into the third.
In the final period, the Manitoba Bisons continued to create chances, but the Cougars continued to capitalize on what they could get.  Just over five minutes into the third, Regina was able to get on the board once again as Tyler Murray found Tyler Henry alone in front, who found the bottom corner on a one-timer, giving the Cougars a three-goal lead.

Manitoba Bisons vs Regina Cougars

Manitoba Bisons vs Regina Cougars

Game 2

Manitoba – 2   Regina – 3   2 OT

There’s no doubt about it, open nets will haunt the Manitoba Bisons men’s hockey team this week.

The team missed key scoring chances for a second straight game as the Regina Cougars came into Wayne Fleming Arena and finished off a pivotal weekend sweep on Saturday, February 1 with a 3-2 win in double overtime.

The Manitoba Bisons fall to 9-11-4 with the loss, while Regina leaps to 13-11-2 in a breakthrough weekend for their squad.  The Herd are now two points back of fourth place Regina.

“There’s a fine line between winning and losing,” said Manitoba Bisons head coach Mike Sirant.  “And it just makes a difference whether you’re scoring goals. We had open nets, multiple opportunities and we just didn’t put them away. This is the result of that.”

At the 3:28 mark of double overtime, John Sonntag got the game-winner for Regina on a steal at centre ice, then a patient snap past Joe Caliguiri.

The Cougars also got goals from Mark Schneider and Ryan Dech, and another incredible goaltending performance, this time from Lucas Gore who stopped 36 in the win.

Manitoba got a goal and an assist from Jordan DePape and a goal from Jesse Paradis, while Joe Caliguiri stopped 22 in the loss.

If Manitoba was worried off the hop over another game of missed opportunities, the first two periods did not show signs of change. There were several fantastic chances – too many to name here.  The most notable of the first was a wrap around by Paradis – who skated very well for the first 20 minutes, but was stopped by the post.

In the second, the post continued to stand strong. 10 minutes in, a Darren Bestland shot got past Gore but rang off both posts.  An avalanche of five penalties ensued and the Cougars would pounce first.  At 11:50 while on a 5-on-3 power play, Schneider patiently waited before wristing in his fifth of the year for the game’s first goal.  18 seconds later, after the Manitoba Bisons took a silly cross-checking penalty to put Regina on another 5-on-3, Dech deflected a slapshot off a pair of bodies for his second of the year to put the Cougars up 2-0.

The penalties, though, would swing back in favour of Manitoba before the second was over.  On their own 5-on-3 at 14:08, they got back within one on the stick of DePape, who deflected a Paulsen shot past Gore for his sixth of the year.

In the third, the Bisons were able to tie it up shorthanded at 7:06, as Paradis cleaned up a rebound on a 2-on-1 break-in for his ninth of the year.  The teams played a slower, smarter brand of hockey the rest of the way, pushing the game to extra time.

The Manitoba Bisons came out in overtime and dominated the five minutes of 4-on-4, owning zone time and getting multiple chances.  The turnover in the subsequent 3-on-3 period, though, would seal their fate, as Sonntag’s third of the year closed the afternoon.

Just two weeks remain on the Bisons men’s hockey regular season schedule, as they now head out on the road to play Lethbridge.  First game in the weekend back-to-back is Friday, February 7 at 8 p.m. CST.  Regina heads home for a weekend against Alberta, first game on Friday, February 7 at 7 p.m. CST.

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