By Woodard, Dale on December 2, 2019.
Members of the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns men’s hockey team and coaching staff donned some snazzy western wear before and after Saturday’s game at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
The wardrobe was apt, considering after a scoreless first period of the Horns Canada West game against the Manitoba Bisons, a good, old-fashioned shootout ensued.
When the dust and the tumbleweeds settled the Pronghorns rode out of town, tall in the saddle with a 6-3 win to complete the first semester of the season.
The teams swapped five goals in the second period and the Pronghorns nursed a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes before adding another three in the third period.
Josh Borynec was the primary gun-slinger for the Horns with two goals, while Luke Coleman netted the eventual game-winner and added two assists.
Ryan Chynoweth, Brooks Maxwell and Russell Maxwell added the other Lethbridge goals, while goaltender Taz Burman turned aside 53 shots in the win that put the Pronghorns at 5-10-1-0 at the break.
“We talked after the game that we felt the guys stuck with it,” said Pronghorns head coach Murray Nystrom. “When there was plenty of opportunity to go the other way and lose composure, I thought the whole weekend we stayed as much on task as we ever have. We didn’t let bad calls against us deter us. Getting scored on, we rebounded, which was really nice.
“We’ve been trying to get our defence more involved in the offensive zone and I thought did a great job doing that. I thought our special teams had a really good weekend as well. From the goaltender out, I thought it was a well-earned victory today, for sure.”
The teams skated through a scoreless first period with the Bisons outshooting the Pronghorns 16-11.
It didn’t take long for the goals to get started in the second stanza.
Dylan Thiessen gave the Bisons a 1-0 lead 4:32 into the period, but the Horns pulled even when Borynec finished off a nice pass from Michael Clarke a little under two minutes later.
Lethbridge went to the power play and went up 2-1 with 7:46 left in the second on a goal from Chynoweth, but Manitoba evened it back up 1:58 later on a goal from Jonah Wasylak.
But with time winding down in the period Brooks Maxwell gave the hosts a lead they didn’t give back.
“Honestly, we just stuck with the game plan,” said Brooks. “We had a game plan for these guys all week and we just stuck with it even when things weren’t going our way. It’s funny, when you stick with it, do what you need to do and execute how good things happen.”
Coleman doubled the Pronghorns lead 3:54 into the third.
Manitoba’s Jeremey Leipsic briefly made it a one-goal game, but Russell Maxwell restored the two-goal cushion 21 seconds later before Borynec added his second of the game and the Pronghorns second power play goal of the game to round out the scoring.
The Horns were down two men for 1:06 late in the third when Evan Wardley was called for roughing and Chynoweth got the gate for tripping, but Lethbridge was able to hold off the Bisons.
“It was big,” said Brooks of the kill.
“Coleman kills a lot of the five-on-threes for us, even the night before, he did a great job. I think it just leads into everything for us, our five-on-five and our powerplay. When we get good kills it leads to more offensive chances when we get back to even strength or the man advantage. The power play also got a couple of goals for us, so it was nice to see.”
“Brandon Greenside, our assistant coach who looks after the penalty kill, has done an outstanding job,” added Nystrom. “His leadership in that area, the guys have responded.”
“Everybody has a job to do in that situation and we knew how we wanted to play if we got in that situation and the guys did a great job and Taz was big when he had to big.”
The Pronghorns record puts them in a tie for sixth place with the 4-9-3 UBC Thunderbirds. They’re also four points behind the Bisons (7-8-1).
“You get greedy and you always want more than what you have,” said Nystrom. “But all said, he had some really good nights this semester that we came up empty with points. We’re trying to use those types of games and situations as opportunities to get better and grow our game. We’re heading into the break right in the hunt and that’s where we want to be at this time of year. Whether we would have preferred another win or two, we are where we want to be and we’ll take that and get ready for the second half run.”
“Definitely some ups and some downs,” added Brooks. “But how we finish it and how we’ve built since the preseason is something to be happy about moving into the second half. We’re right there and I think we’ll be there if we keep going.”
On the women’s side, the Pronghorns took one point off the Bisons in Winnipeg to wrap up the semester, losing 2-1 in overtime Saturday.
The Bisons won the weekend-opener with a 3-1 decision Friday.
The weekend puts the Pronghorns at 7-8-0-1 at the break, good for sixth in the Canada West, one point back of the Mount Royal Cougars and three back of
In Saturday’s game, Madison Porter scored her fifth of the season with 1:56 left in the second to tie the game at 1-1 and force overtime, but Manitoba’s Jordyn Zacharias scored 48 seconds into overtime. Kate Gregoire scored the other Bisons goal.
Pronghorns goaltender Alicia Anderson stopped 30 of 32 shots.
On Friday, Alli Borrow was the Horns goal scorer as the Bisons struck for three third-period goals for the win.
Anderson made another 24 saves Friday.
The Pronghorns women begin the second semester Jan. 3 and 4 when the host the Regina Cougars at Nicholas Sheran Arena.
The men open on the road Jan. 3 and 4 in Regina and are home Jan. 10 and 11 when the Saskatchewan Huskies come to town.
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