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This article was published 14/3/2019 (241 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The University of Manitoba Bisons women's hockey team will not be bringing home a U SPORTS national championship banner for the second year in a row.
The defending national champion Bisons lost 3-2 to the Guelph Gryphons in the national quarter-finals on Thursday afternoon at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown. With the loss, the Herd will now play in the consolation semifinal on Saturday morning, with a chance to play for fifth place on the line.
"We're going for fifth. We want to show what we can do," said fifth-year Bisons forward Alanna Sharman in a telephine interview. "We're going to come out Saturday as hard as we can. There's no quit on this team, that's one of our biggest assets. We're going to play some hockey we're really proud of and not just coast through this weekend. Being in the national championship is an incredible opportunity. If we play the way we can play and end up fifth in the nation, I'd be super proud. I'd be super proud no matter how we finish this weekend, but we're not quitting. We're battling hard through hopefully these next two games."
The Herd found themselves down early on Thursday, as Guelph scored two goals in the first two minutes of the game. Gryphons leading scorer Kaitlyn Lowy opened the scoring 41 seconds in before Sydney Davison made it a 2-0 game at the 1:41 mark.
But Sharman battled to get her team back in the game, scoring with 30 seconds left in the first period, and again a minute into the second period to make it a 2-2 game. Sharman had three goals in 12 regular-season games for the Herd this year.
Unfortunately for Sharman, her errant pass in the Bisons' zone early in the third period backfired. The puck wound up on Guelph skater Nicole MacKinnon's stick and she beat goalie Lauren Taraschuk for the winning goal at 5:53.
Manitoba outshot Guelph 23-21 and only took one penalty, but they couldn't fully recover from the first two minutes.
"It was just a slow start," Sharman said. "They came out ready to go and I think we were a little nervous. We got back pretty fast, but those first two goals in the first couple of minutes obviously isn't an ideal situation."
The Herd’s season will officially end on Saturday if they lose. If they win, they'll play on Sunday morning for the consolation title.
Bisons interim head coach Sean Fisher said this isn’t what they had hoped for, but they need to regroup and finish the tournament strong.
"There's only six teams that get to compete in a U SPORTS women's hockey game on March 17 and we want to be one of them," said Fisher. "It's our responsibility as a Bison athlete or a Bison staff member. We still take that responsibility very seriously."
Eighteen years old and still in high school, Taylor got his start with the Free Press on June 1, 2011. Well, sort of.