U Sports Hockey: UBC soars over Manitoba

It has been a trying year for both the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds and the University of Manitoba Bisons, but UBC put their season back on track with two wins over the Bisons this weekend.

Playing each other, they both had the chance to save their seasons and stop their teams from spiralling even further down into the basement of Canada West, and the Thunderbirds cashed in on the opportunity.

With the two wins, the Thunderbirds now find themselves in the home game side of the playoff picture, as the season nears its one-third mark.

On Friday night, the Thunderbirds showed why they’re better than the standings say with a dominant 3-0 win over Manitoba. The stat which stood out the most was the paltry amount of shots the Bisons were able to conjure. Over 60 minutes, UBC netminder Tory Micklash only faced 10 shots, en-route to her third shutout of the season.

UBC vs MAN, Oct. 26, 2019
UBC celebrates their goal (Bob Frid)

In every aspect of Friday night they dominated. Special teams weren’t extremely prevalent, however, in the two chances they got, UBC cashed in. Scoring a powerplay goal and killing their lone penalty. It was the first powerplay goal that was allowed by the Bison’s this season, moving their PK percentage down to a still fantastic 95%, good enough for first in the conference.

In speaking with UBC Communications, head coach Graham Thomas said “We played 60 minutes, every line was going, everyone was working hard.” It is a true example of what he tried to instill in his players and a characteristic which he seeks when recruiting.

Although Friday’s win was dominant, Bison’s goaltender Erin Fargey stood on her head until the final minute, where UBC was able to get two goals within 36 seconds. If it weren’t for that final minute, a lucky bounce could have gotten something out of the game for the visitors. Alas, there was no lucky bounce and two pucks found their way behind Fargey to seal the 3-0 win for the Thunderbirds.

On Saturday afternoon the thunderbirds got another hit of sweet victory as they again defeated the Bisons in another dominant performance. Similarly to the previous night, the scoresheet could not tell the whole storey, as the score appeared close despite the game being played on a seemingly tilted sheet of ice, that is when it was five on five.

The major difference between the two games was the number of penalties that UBC had. I already mentioned that Friday only featured a single penalty kill. Saturday, on the other hand, has UBC shorthanded for 20 minutes, but fluently for them, the Bison’s dismal powerplay (9%) didn’t get any better.

After the pair of games, the head coach said: “ Our penalty killing and shot-blocking were huge, we didn’t let them faze us.”

The weekend went well for UBC, who hand Manitoba another blow to their Canada West playoff hopes. Yes, the season remains young, however, the likelihood of a resurrection of the Bisons is a far fetched idea.

With the win, the Thunderbirds have now garnered points in six straight games, and are rolling on high spirits as they head to Saskatchewan to take on the Huskies next week.

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