Written by Garrick Kozier
WINNIPEG, Oct. 12, 2012 – Coming off a pair of losses in their season opening series at Alberta two weeks ago, the unranked Manitoba Bisons (1-2-0) men’s hockey team rang the redemption bell in their home opener against the reigning Canada West champion and No. 4 ranked Saskatchewan Huskies (2-1-0), downing their cross province rivals 3-1.
Led by a three-point (2G, 1A) outburst from fourth-year forward Blair Macaulay, the homeside Bisons thrilled the maximum capacity Max Bell Centre crowd at the campus of the University of Manitoba with their first victory of the season, in this their 77th Canada West season.
If Canada West hockey fans were looking for goals on this brisk October evening, they would have been better served taking in the Bisons women’s soccer game, taking place just a stone’s throw from Max Bell Centre. In fact, the Bisons soccer squad scored more goals themselves (5) then both Manitoba and Saskatchewan hockey clubs combined.
The Bisons outshot the visiting Huskies by a margin of 25 to 22.
With an even three minutes left in the first period, Macaulay found the back of the net, with his wrist shot eluding the right shoulder pad of Huskies netminder, Ryan Holfeld. Bisons second year blueliner Travis Bobbee added an assist on the goal.
The Huskies started the second period as well as any team could –by lighting the lamp. A mere 19 seconds into the frame, defenceman Jimmy Bubnick, a freshman out of Saskatoon, Sask., beat Bisons fifth-year backstop Jesse Deckart with a low wrist shot. Forward Derek Hulak and blueliner Ryan Funk chipped in with helpers on Bubnick’s tying marker.
Shortly after Bubnick’s goal, Bisons fifth-year forward Tyler Dittmer was helped off the ice with an undisclosed injury. He returned to action later in the period, seemingly unscathed.
Both sides traded penalties in the second period, however neither side was able to take advantage on the score sheet.
On what can only be described as a beautiful tic-tac-toe play, Macaulay found pay dirt again with what turned out to be the winning goal seven minutes into the third period. Macaulay and Dittmer fooled the Huskies defencemen with an impressive blend of passing to take the 2-1 lead.
Fourth-year Bisons forward Ian Duval put the game on ice with a goal with 1:32 left in the third. Macaulay and centre Dane Crowley added assists on the play.
Even as the Huskies applied the pressure the in weening moments of the third period, Deckart remained resolute, turning away a flurry of desperation shots to preserve the 3-1 victory.
The Bisons and Huskies meet again tomorrow evening in the second game of this two game set. Puck drop is slated for 7 p.m. cst.