by John Gaudes

January 4, 2014, WINNIPEG (ISN) – In what’s been a middling season thus far, this first weekend back after holiday break may go down as the Bisons’ season turning point.

On Saturday, January 4th, the women’s hockey team completed a crucial weekend sweep of the #8-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies at the Wayne Fleming Arena, winning 3-2. The win bolsters the Bisons to 11-5-2, while the Huskies fall to 11-4-3.

After the heroics of Kyleigh Palmer the night before, Meagan Vestby was up to the task on Saturday night. Her two breakaway goals, her third and fourth of the season, bookended Manitoba’s night to open the scoring and provide the game-winner. Palmer added her third of the weekend and tenth of the season in the win.

Manitoba goalie Dée-Ana Marion had 12 saves in the win.

For Saskatchewan, a pair of goals by Kandace Cook and Carlee Hrenkiw kept them in it for the first 40 minutes. They were unable, though, to find an answer in the third. Goalie Christine Hendricks put in another strong performance, making 21 saves.

Manitoba opened the scoring on the power play at 6:51 of the first period, as Vestby streaked down the right boards and put a quick wrist shot over Hendricks’ shoulder to put the Bisons up 1-0. At 14:07, though, Saskatchewan had an answer – Cook capitalized on a broken play behind the Bisons net, taking a pass and slapping a shot past Marion to tie it up after 20 minutes.

Early in the second, Manitoba was able to jump ahead again. With her third goal of the weekend and tenth of the season, Palmer scored from the slot at 1:34. Again, the resilient Huskies responded – at 15:05 they were once again able to jump on a broken play around the Bisons net, as Hrenkiw punched a loose puck in to tie it up.

Halfway through the third, Manitoba got numerous chances on the power play, but a steady Hendricks was able to make two fantastic saves on Palmer, then Maggie Litchfield-Medd point blank. Shortly after, though, the Bisons broke through – Vestby grabbed a Huskies turnover at centre ice and scored her second of the night on a backhand, sealing it for Manitoba.

The Bisons women’s hockey team now head out on the road, playing in Mount Royal on Friday, January 10th. Puck drops at 7 p.m. CST. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, returns home to play #9-ranked Alberta on the same date and same time.