The Bison men’s hockey team (9-10-0) started 2015 off the right way, as they defeated the UBC Thunderbirds (7-9-3) 3-1 at home on Saturday. The Bisons scored all three of their goals over a span of three minutes in the second period, which proved to be the difference in a hard-fought game. Nine Bisons picked up points in the win, with goals coming from Chad Robinson, Brett Dudar and Brock Sutherland.
Bisons goalie Deven Dubyk made 33 saves for the win. At the other end, Eric Williams got the start in net for the visitors, making 20 saves on 23 shots.
The T-Birds were dominant to start the game, preventing the Bisons from getting a shot on goal for the first five minutes of the game and outshooting the home side 14-5. Penalty troubles for the Bisons allowed UBC to maintain possession of the puck early in the first, and forcing Dubyk into action early and often.
“They had a lot more jump than we did,” said Bison head coach Mike Sirant, “That was puzzling because we had a really good week of practices and preparation. I felt we were ready to go but obviously UBC came out with more jump than we did.”
The visitors finally cracked Dubyk on their second power play opportunity of the night, as Manraj Hayer jumped on a rebound and stuffed it into the Bison net. Manitoba looked poised to respond with their own power play in the final minute of the period, but a high sticking call to Aaron Lewadniuk nullified the threat.
After UBC failed to capitalize on their power play to start the second period, Manitoba’s offence sprung to life. Chad Robinson tied the game for Manitoba, scoring after a mad scramble for a loose puck right at the top of the UBC crease at 5:22.
Just over a minute later, Brett Dubar made a nice touch on a Dustin Bruyere pass to spring in alone on a breakaway, beating Williams top shelf to put Manitoba in the lead. Less than a minute later, Brock Sutherland caught the T-birds napping and snapped home Manitoba’s third goal of the period, with Jesse Paradis and Paulson Depape picking up assists. The frenzy of goals swung momentum Manitoba’s way, as the teams headed into the locker room with the Bisons up 3-1 and the Thunderbirds visibly frustrated by how the period played out.
UBC upped the intensity to start the third as they tried to mount a comeback, but were no match for Manitoba who continued their stellar play from the second period. The T-Birds’ best chance to cut into the Bisons lead came late in the period, with Manitoba forward Warren Callis in the penalty box. With UBC players buzzing all around the net, Dubyk made a dramatic diving save to keep the puck out of an otherwise wide-open net.
After the penalty expired, Manitoba had a great opportunity to ice it on a two-on-one, but Dylan Kelly ended up getting called for goalie interference, setting up a six-on-four scenario for the visitors. Manitoba weathered the storm and held on in the final minutes for the 3-1 win.
Sirant had glowing praise for his netminder, Dubyk, who picked up his ninth win of the season.
“He made some big saves at the end of the game to preserve the win, but he was also solid throughout the game,” said Sirant.
“His rebound control was really good — nothing was getting away from him. He just gave us real solid goaltending and was instrumental in our win tonight.”
The win bumped the Bisons into fourth place in the extremely tight Canada West standings. The two teams will be back at it Sunday at Wayne Fleming Arena for the rematch, with puck drop scheduled for 1 p.m.
— MARC LAGACE, Bison Sports