January 19, 2018, Vancouver- In front of a packed house of 5’500 fans, the UBC Thunderbird’s downed the visiting Lethbridge Pronghorns 2-1 in a hard fought game between the two teams.
Matt Hewitt would get the start in net for the home team in his 4th and final Winter Classic, while former Windsor Spitfires net minder; Garret Hughson was called upon for the visitors.
In a game which had major playoff implications, both teams took a while to find their footing. As they got used to the crowd along with the sub-par ice conditions.
The game remained a tentative affair in the opening minutes with neither team able to create any chances.
The record crowd had to wait six minutes before the night’s first chance, which came from Carter Popoff when he came in on a breakaway only to have his shot miss the net. After the chance, the pace of the game accelerated and led to penalties.
Both teams would get one penalty in the frame, with neither side able to find the go ahead goal with the man advantage.
The best chance on the power play came from UBC, when an Austin Vetterl pass found an open Sandhu in the slot whose shot nestled into the chest of Hughson.
UBC’s Penalty kill was unbelievable on their first chance, holding the Pronghorns to just one shot on the power play. Austin Vetterl; the Thunderbirds leading scorer would break the deadlock late in the period with a stylish move before sliding the puck through the legs of Hughson.
The lead would not last long for the Thunderbirds, Lethbridge forward Maxwell tipped a point shot past Hewitt to tie the game just five minutes later to end the frame 1-1.
The game would stay tied through the second, despite an abundance of penalties; most notably a ten minute misconduct to Devan Fafard for dissent.
After a stale affair in the second, the Thunderbirds would come out firing on all cylinders in the third period.
Just 55 seconds into the third, UBC would find their winning goal from sensational first year forward Tyler Sandhu.
His initial attempt went wide before it ricocheted off the boards and back on to his stick where he promptly fired it past a wandering Hughson.
The Thunderbirds would weather a storm of shots in the closing minutes, relying on a kick save from Hewitt to seal the victory.
“To be honest, I blacked out. I just threw my pad out and I got a piece of it, I’m just thankful it didn’t go in.” Hewitt said about the game winning stop.
UBC head coach Sven Butenschon was pleased with the performance, highlighting the third period as their most organized saying “We simplified our game and in the third period, I don’t ever remember us taking a chance of having a turnover.” He also praised the Revel, Stenerson and Veterl line for the offensive efforts in the first period.
In his final Winter Classic, Hewitt made 26 saves for his 9th win of the season as well as helping UBC extended their winning streak to three games.
UBC plays the Pronghorns for a 4th and final time in regular season action on Saturday, before welcoming the University of Saskatoon next weekend.
Puck drop for Saturday is set for 1:00 PM PT.