The Manitoba Bisons were seconds away on Thursday afternoon from having to crawl out of deep hole to start the Cavendish University Cup. But along came a hockey miracle, the kind every kid dreams about growing up, but few ever achieve.
The Manitoba Bisons were seconds away on Thursday afternoon from having to crawl out of deep hole to start the Cavendish University Cup.
But along came a hockey miracle, the kind every kid dreams about growing up, but few ever achieve. Ian Duval beat McGill Redmen goalie Hubert Morin with five ticks left in regulation time, lifting the underrated Manitoba Bisons into a 4-4 tie.
A flood of the ice and one Mike Hellyer goal later and they’d pulled off the impossible, rebounding from a 4-1 deficit after 40 minutes to eke out a 5-4 victory.
It puts them in the driver’s seat at the six team national men’s university hockey championship, a Saturday win over Saint Mary’s away from playing in Sunday’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport final.
Hellyer, whose OT winner was his second of the night, said it was chaos in an instant after the puck crossed the line behind Morin.
“I threw it over to Ian, and Ian’s had good vision all year. He fed me in the slot. I just wanted to get the puck in the net as quick as I could,” the Brandon, Man. native said. “I think it went off the D-man’s skate and in. I couldn’t really tell you what happened after that for the first five seconds. I just remember getting mauled by 20 guys.”
It was a remarkable comeback for a team that had plenty of chances in the first and second, none more so than Duval who missed a couple of open nets in the first 20 minutes, catching Morin well out of position. The Bisons started flat, but finished strong, despite trailing by three heading into the third, Hellyer said.
“As cliché as it is, we don’t quit, and I think we proved it in overtime,” said Hellyer, named Manitoba’s player of the game.
Interim McGill coach Jim Webster called the Redmen’s collapse disastrous, after controlling the scoreboard for 59:55.
“It’s the ultimate agony of defeat,” Webster said. “We’re working toward this national championship for the whole season, and it can’t get worse than this at this moment.”
The Redmen aren’t done, by any measure, but they’re going to need some help. First and foremost they’ll have to find a way to rebound in less than 24 hours against a tough Saint Mary’s squad. It’s not like his troops haven’t faced adversity along the way, he said.
“We’ve had our backs to the wall to get here. In our semifinal series we were down a game to get. Since that time we’ve played well. So I’m expecting us to win tomorrow and give ourselves a chance to get where we want to,” Webster said.
McGill forward Evan Vossen said there were chances both ways in the third, they just didn’t go their way on this day.
Hellyer’s first goal, which closed the gap to 4-3 with 3:18 to go, was a heartbreaker.
“It was off a shoulder or whatnot. It’s a tough pill to swallow. You know it’s going to be tight down the wire. I thought we were doing a pretty good job in the last minute making sure we had lanes and stuff like that, but they swept one through,” Vossen said. “It’s gonna be a goal like that to tie it.”
McGill took a quick lead on a Guillaume Doucet wrist shot that beat Manitoba’s newly minted CIS goaltender of the year Steve Christie just 2:15 into the opening stanza.
Sebastien Rioux, who paced McGill with a goal and an assist, doubled the lead before the second was over.
Manitoba stormed back in the second, or so it appeared when Kyle Howarth potted his first of two on the afternoon just 38 seconds in.
But the power play goal was countered by OUA East all-star Alexandre Picard-Hooper, who knocked one past Christie to restore the two-goal McGill advantage. It was three before the period ended, thanks to Simon Marcotte-Legare.
The comeback began in earnest early in the third.
Howarth fired a shot through traffic that beat Morin to make it 4-2 at the 3:55 mark and the Bisons kept pressing, finally breaking through again when Hellyer cut the lead to one.
“We were kind of snake-bitten there, but we stuck with it and it’s a process. It’s a full 60-minute game and we stuck with it and it paid off in the end,” Duval said.
McGill plays Saint Mary’s on in a must-win game on Friday afternoon.
FIRST PERIOD Scoring: McGill, Doucet 1 (Marcotte, Vosssen). 2. Rioux (Wright) 13:21 pp. Penalties: Mealy MAN (check to the head, misconduct) 3:19, Wild MAN (hooking) 7:38, Duval MAN (high sticking) 13:12. Vossen MCG (high sticking) 13:40, Rioux MCG (tripping) 14:50.
SECOND PERIOD Scoring: 3. Manitoba, Howarth (Walker, Macaulay) 0:38. 4. McGill, Picard-Hooper (Rioux, Verreault-Paul) 0:55. 5. McGill, Marcotte-Legare (Vossen, Doucet) 16:04. Penalties: Langelier-Parent MCG (hooking) 1:47, Brown MAN (interference) 6:30, Turcotte Mcg (holding) 8:55, Gazdic MCG (tripping) 11:29. THIRD PERIOD Scoring: 6. Manitoba, Howarth (Walker, Christie) 3:55 pp. 7. Manitoba, Hellyer (Erb) 16:42. 8. Manitoba, Duval (Walker, Mealy)19:55. Penalties: Dorion MCG (tripping) 3:26, Mealy MAN (tripping) 4:30,Langelier-Parent (checking from behind, game misconduct) 12:45.
A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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