WINNIPEG, MB - The University of Manitoba Bisons and Mount Royal University Cougars kicked off the 2018 Canada West men's hockey playoff schedule with the Cougars coming out victorious and taking a 1-0 series lead at Wayne Fleming Arena on Friday, Feb. 16 night in game one of the conference quarter-final best-of-three series.
This is the second year in a row that the two teams have met in the Canada West quarter -finals with Mount Royal winning last season's matchup in three games.
Jamie King would prove to be the hero of Game 1 for the Cougars as he blasted a shot past Bisons goaltender Byron Spriggs with less than a minute remaining in the contest, breaking the hearts of the Bisons in the late stages of the game.
As time ticked down, Bisons forward Liam Bilton busted down the right wing and fired a shot past Lanigan to tie the game with just 4:16 remaining in the third period after getting a beautiful feed from Nick Zajac, but the Cougars late heroics were enough for the opening game win.
"To sum it up for us, we just turned over to many pucks, we just have to manage that puck better tomorrow" said Bisons Head Coach Mike Sirant after the loss.
Mount Royal controlled much of the play in the first period but it was Manitoba who took the lead early with Zach Franko going upstairs on Cougars goaltender Cameron Lanigan at the 5:29 mark of the opening period after receiving a Michael St. Croix pass.
Just minutes later, the Cougars would tie the game 1-1 as Mount Royal's regular season points leader Jesse Lees beat Spriggs with a quick shot from the right side of the slot.
The second saw both teams produce quality scoring chances but both were held off the score sheet in the middle frame as both Lanigan and Spriggs stood tall for their respective teams.
After the Cougars sustained pressure in the Bisons end, Jamal Watson buried a shot past Spriggs with the assists going to Chris Gerrie and Tanner Olstad.
"We need to be better tomorrow, we showed some resiliency and found a way to tie it up late in the game" Sirant said "We knew it was going to be a tough series, one win doesn't make a series yet, you have to win two games and we will be better tomorrow".
The series continues tomorrow night (Feb. 17) as these two teams meet at 7 p.m. CT at Wayne Fleming Arena in Winnipeg.
1 - Jamie King - Mount Royal (GWG)
2- Byron Spriggs - Manitoba (33 saves)
3- Jamal Watson - Mount Royal (1 goal)
Austin Frame, Bison Sports
Photo - gobisions.ca