UBC drops shootout to league champs in season opener

UBC drops shootout to league champs in season opener

By Noah Derksen (UBC Sports Information Assistant)

VANCOUVER — The University of Saskatchewan's Kaitlin Willoughby sent the game into overtime with just over two minutes left in the third period, and scored again in the shootout to complete her team's comeback against the UBC Thunderbirds and give the Huskies a 5-4 victory in the Canada West women's hockey regular season opener for both teams on Friday night.

The Thunderbirds got goals from Sarah CasorsoNicole Saxvik,Tatiana Rafter and Devon MorrisonWilloughby also scored in the second period while teammates Kandace Cook and Marley Ervine also found the net for the visitors. 

UBC led 4-3 late in the third period, after Saskatchewan had clawed back from a 3-0 second-period deficit, when Willoughby tallied her second goal of the game to tie the score at 4-4.

Willoughby, last year's CIS Rookie of the Year, beat Lemon with a well-placed wrist shot at 17:49 of the third period. A centering pass from Ervine gave the Prince Albert, Sask., product an opportunity in front of the net that she did not pass up.

This goal sent the game into overtime at 4-4, where it would remain tied through two five-minute periods of extra time. Willoughby then opened up the shootout with a goal. Cook would seal the game after Saskatchewan goaltender Cassidy Hendricks stopped two attempts by UBC.

UBC forward Rafter, last year's Canada West Player of the Year, had one goal and two assists in the shootout loss.

"We'll take it as a learning experience, and realize any competition is going to push back, and we need to be disciplined in keeping up our level of play and our systems," she said.

The third period twice saw the Thunderbirds' lead dissipate.

Heading into the period at 3-1 in favour of UBC, Saskatchewan would score three times in the 20-minute frame to send the game into extra time tied at 4-4.

Saskatchewan's Cook took advantage of a T-Birds change 5:47 into the period, driving to the net in a three-on-none situation and putting the pack past Lemon to make it 3-2.

Less than a minute after Ervine had tied the game at 3-3, UBC's second-year defender Morrison regained the lead for the home side with a goal assisted by Saxvik and Rafter.

UBC dominated through the first stages of the game.

Fifth-year captain Casorso opened up the scoring at the halfway mark of the first period in her final regular season opener as a Thunderbird. Two second period power play goals by Saxvik and Rafter put the Thunderbirds up 3-0.

Willoughby scored first for the visiting team on the power play in the dying minutes of the second period, assisted by Chelsea Wilson and Ervine.

Despite the loss, UBC is awarded one point in the standings, and will have an opportunity to get on the win column in tomorrow night's rematch.

"I think we'll be quick to learn from our mistakes, and bring it tomorrow," said Rafter.

Third-year player Danielle Lemon tended the goal for UBC, stopping 23 of 27 shots, while Saskatchewan's Hendricks made 36 out of 40 possible saves.

The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, with puck drop at 7 p.m. PT.

IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds