UBC beats the defending Canada West champs for first regular season victory

UBC beats the defending Canada West champs for first regular season victory

By Noah Derksen (Sports Information Assistant)

VANCOUVER — The UBC Thunderbirds scored two first period goals against the University of Saskatchewan on Saturday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, and held on to win 2-0 in Canada West women's hockey action.

Samantha Langford earned the shutout for the Thunderbirds in her first game of the year. After not seeing any action throughout the preseason, having been sidelined with a high-ankle sprain, Langford rejoined team practice earlier this week, and stopped all 16 shots she faced on Saturday night, helping the Thunderbirds to their first win of the 2014-15 season.

First period goals by Emily O'Neill and Sarah Casorso were enough to secure the victory for the home team, as dominant play throughout the game keep the Huskies in check, limiting their scoring chances.

Fifth-year captain Casorso has scored two goals in as many games this season.

"Tonight we played a full 60-minute consistent game, which is what we need to do all year," she said of her team's performance.

UBC was able to hold off Saskatchewan's Kaitlin Willoughby, as last year's CIS Rookie of the Year had scored two goals in the Huskies comeback win on Friday night.

O'Neill, one of UBC's veteran players, opened the scoring a mere 2:41 into the game. She fooled Saskatchewan goaltender Cassidy Hendricks with a fluttering puck that made its way through Huskies goaltender and past the goal line. Nicole Saxvik and Kelly Murray assisted on the goal.

Casorso made the game 2-0 at 11:03 of the first period. Excellent off-the-puck movement by Casorso saw her alone in front of the net with the puck after receiving a well-timed and well-placed pass from Rebecca Unrau, where she would make no mistake. Saxvik earned her second assist of the game on the goal, bringing her to a total of four points on the year. This number sees her in a tie for first in Canada West total scoring through the first weekend of the season.

Hendricks kept her team in the game after UBC went up two goals, as she stopped a backhander from Rafter as she cut across the net on a 1-on-1 play in the first period.

UBC opened the game in similar fashion as they had through two periods the night before – with sustained offensive pressure. As in the Friday's game, UBC was efficient on the back check throughout the opening stages. Aggressive play in the defensive end mixed with crisp passing in the neutral zone by the Thunderbirds led to an elapse of 12 minutes before the Huskies registered their first shot on net. Through 60 minutes, UBC outshot Saskatchewan 28-16.

The visitors also enjoyed a 5-2 advantage in power plays but couldn't convert on any of the opportunities.

UBC's performance earned praise from head coach Graham Thomas.

"We showed that we're going to be a team to contend with."

The Thunderbirds will continue regular season play in Calgary next weekend as they take on Mount Royal University. Saskatchewan will travel to Winnipeg for a two-game set with the University of Manitoba Bisons.

IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds