VANCOUVER, BC – It was a weekend clash of Canada West men’s hockey titans, as the UBC Thunderbirds and Saskatchewan Huskies met in Vancouver. Both teams came into the matchup at the top of the conference, with Sask sitting up top and UBC not far behind in fourth.
The first game saw the T-Birds take it to the visiting Huskies. Tyler Sandhu got the scoring underway, the UBC captain calmly outwaiting Roddy Ross and backhanding it into the yawning cage. Saskatchewan managed to equalize on the powerplay, Donovan Neuls banging home a rebound past Rylan Toth with 5 minutes left in the first.
UBC would come out of the intermission on a mission. Just over three minutes into the second, Matt Leduc would send a shot from the point on net. Matt Revel would get his stick on the puck, deflecting it into the goal for a 2-1 lead. Cyle McNabb would double the T-Bird advantage 3 minutes later, potting home the puck off a goal-mouth scramble.
Scott Atkinson would complete the three-goal explosion from the Thunderbird offense, snapping a shot shorthanded past Ross for a 4-1 lead. Though the Huskies would push back, it wouldn’t be enough as UBC locked it down to bring home the 4-1 win.
The second game of the weekend got off to a much different start. The Huskies probably got a stern talking to by head coach Mike Babcock as they scored three times in the first five minutes. The goals came from Gordon Ballhorn, Justin Ball, and Donovan Neuls, the first two markers on the powerplay and the last one on the penalty kill.
Still, UBC battled back. Jonathan Smart would beat Travis Smart on the powerplay, a struggling special team for the Thunderbirds as of late. It breathed some life back into them as less than a minute later, Cyle McNabb would walk through the entire Saskatchewan team to cut the deficit to one.
With momentum swinging to their side, UBC continued to score goals. In the third, Matt Revel would tip home another goal from a Ryan Pouliot point blast, knotting the game up at three apiece. Then, just over a minute later, Chris Douglas would give the Thunderbirds their first lead of the game with a shot from the right faceoff circle.
That would be curtains for Childs as Babcock pulled the netminder for Ross, though that wouldn’t change much. Revel tipped home a Smart shot on the powerplay to give the T-Birds the 5-3 lead before Tian Rask found the empty net to put a bow on a very nice comeback victory.
With the victories this weekend, the Thunderbirds leapfrog into first in Canada West, sitting alone with a record of 8-1-1. Meanwhile, Babcock’s Huskies fall to 7-3 on the season, losing back-to-back games for the first time this season. Saskatchewan returns home to take on the Mount Royal Cougars this coming weekend, while UBC heads to Langley to face off against new rivals Trinity Western Spartans.
Cover Photo: UBC Thunderbirds