2018-11-17 Vancouver- To this point in time Bird Bites has only been done for the UBC men’s hockey team. This week on Van City Sport, for the first time on Bird Bites is the UBC Women’s hockey team!
The UBC women’s hockey team split a pair of games against the defending national champion University of Manitoba Bisons this weekend at Thunderbird Arena. Both games were tightly contested, and provided some peculiar results when you look at performances. Friday night saw Manitoba walk away with a 4-3 win, while the Thunderbirds got their slice of the pie on Saturday coming out as 2-1 victors.
The Thunderbirds have had a pleasing start to the season, and sat at 4-2-2-2 after 10 games, they haven’t set the world alight but have been keeping pace with the rest of the league; coming into the weekend in fourth place. On the other hand, Manitoba has been dominant yet again this season. The Bisons came into the weekend leading Canada West with their 7-2-1-0 record and have used their 2017-18 national championship as a springboard into this season.
UBC came into the series after collecting three points in two games last weekend against Saskatchewan, losing one overtime affair and winning the other game. The Bisons however were coming off two high scoring wins versus Lethbridge. Their wins last weekend were by gargantuan margins; one coming as an 8-0 victory with the other at 4-1. The Bisons were to be a complicated task for the ‘Birds, but one which they were up to throughout the two matchups.
Up against the nations best, you wouldn’t have blamed the Thunderbirds if they sat back and tried to weather the storm in the early goings of the game. That was certainly not the case, UBC went head to head right from puck drop; treating the fans to exciting end to end action in the opening minutes. The start plan proved fruitful for the T-Birds, as they got the nights first goal just four minutes into the period. Brie Bellerive finished quick offensive cycle alongside Madison Patrick to give the birds a leg up over the country’s number one team. It was the perfect start for the ‘Bird and it takes a lot of courage to attack such a highly ranked team right from the start.
The old saying “you’ve got be lucky to be good and good to be lucky” proved its truth for UBC 15:37 into the first period. Building off of their strong start and quick opening goal, the Thunderbirds kept the pressure on and controlled the puck in the offensive end for long periods a of time. Where is the luck in this you ask? UBC got their second goal of the night thanks to a redirected pass from Logan Boyd that went off the skate of Celine tardif and slowly trickled between the legs of Manitoba netminder Lauren Taraschuk. The goal came as a result of good work in the offensive end from the T-Birds, but a little lucky bounce was a welcome present.
Best Save and Better:
Tory Micklash was worked hard in the second period. It wasn’t so much for the abundance of shots as the bisons failed to put up many, but the shots they did get were of outstanding quality. With seven and five minutes remaining in the period Micklash would be called upon to make some world class saves. First was a lunging leg save which foiled a two person breakaway by the Bisons to keep the lead for the home side.
Mere minutes later Micklash found herself lost behind the net, only to have the puck come to a Manitoba forward in front of the goal. Micklash sprawled fortuitously back into position in time to make the save, again keeping the Thunderbirds 2-0 lead in tact heading into the third period.
The Bisons were supposed to be dominant right? It was easy to forget on friday night as the thunderbirds were ahead of them on the shot count all night. At points UBC even had double the shots of manitoba. While Manitoba opted for quality over quantity, it was abundantly clear that UBC had control of the game right from puck drop. Aside from the shots, UBC’s overall play was a surprise to many as they spent most of the night with the puck in the offensive end meanwhile giving up very few opportunities defensively. Between the shot count and general play, the Thunderbirds should come out of this game feeling very good about themselves, now knowing they can go head to head with Canada’s best.
After being outplayed through two and a half periods, The Bisons found another gear and finally got some offense near the end of the game. Manitoba would get their first goal with seven minutes remaining, and just that was enough to spark their comeback. The Bisons had all the momentum, triggering UBC head coach Graham Thomas to call a timeout with two minutes left to play. The timeout failed to fulfill their goal of shutting down the game, as MAnitoba won the restarting face, broke into a cycle and tied the game up with a wicked wrist shot from the left circle. The resilience and fight shown by the bisons to claw their way back into the game is indicative of a successful team. With 10 minutes to go all looked lost, but they were able to draw the game into overtime and earn a victory in a shootout.
Worst fall apart:
The other side of “Best Resilience” isn’t a fun one to be on. After dominating the game and having one of the best performances of the season, the Thunderbirds let the victory slip right between their fingers.
After the loss head coach Graham Thomas said “We need to have short term memory loss We have to bury it and prepare to take that team down tomorrow. We’re pretty motivated to get it done tomorrow.”
A quick turnaround was exactly what the doctor ordered for the Thunderbirds, as they had the chance to put the lost points in the back of their minds.
Thunderbird forward Hannah Clayton-Carroll was awarded the UBC rec hockey league scholarship prior to saturday’s matchup. It was a well deserved award for the fourth year forward, recognizing her illustrious Thunderbird career
Building on momentum:
Saturday started off much like Friday finished, with UBC dominating; but Manitoba scoring, The Bisons opened the scoring 12:44 into the first period, despite being outshot 9-4 in that timespan. Natasha Kostenko fired a shot over Micklash’s shoulder for her fourth goal of the season, further extending Manitoba’s confidence.
Saturday’s second period must have been one of the most forgettable periods for everyone who experienced it. Literally nothing happened, ‘nuff said.
It took awhile but the Thunderbirds finally broke down the stingy Manitoba defense on Saturday. After trailing for most of the game, and having the majority of the shot share UBC found their first and tying goal with 10 minutes to go in the third period. Hannah Karoll brought the puck down the left wing and threw it into the slot where centre Emily Costales promptly slotted it in for her fourth goal of the year. The goal, followed by a passionate goal celebration shifted the game back in to UBC’s favour and brought a sense of belief that was missing in the Thunderbirds.
Deja Vu reversed?
On Friday it was the Bisons with the late game comeback, Saturday however the script was flipped. Following Costales goal, the Thunderbirds earned themselves a power play. While the power play was never able to set up, the did get the puck in a raucous jam in front of the net. After nearly 20 seconds of poking and prodding, Ashley McFadden was able to force the puck across the goal line to flip the lead into UBC’s hands.
The Thunderbirds come from behind win on Saturday could and should have been a lot more comfortable. UBC outshot the Bisons for the second night in a row, this time by a score of 31-12. The problem for the T-Birds in both games has been their low shooting percentage and ability to finish chances. The 31 shots is the most the ‘Birds have put up this year, and even with that they were unable to score more than twice.
Following the win on Saturday Graham Thomas said that his team wasn’t at their best, saying “It wasn’t our best game as a whole but it was that determination and being resilient and relentless, I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”
Friday night was a more complete performance by UBC, but they were unable to seal the victory in the late stages of the game. One would think that better games and all round performances would lead to better results, however; the opposite was true for the Thunderbirds this weekend.
Happy New Year!
The series against the Bisons were UBC’s last home games of 2018. The ‘Birds will close out the year with two road trips, and four away games before taking a break for christmas. First up is a trip to Regina where they will face the Cougars, before making their way to Lethbridge to close out the fall term.