VANCOUVER – The Canada West's top two women's hockey teams will clash this weekend as the No. 4 UBC Thunderbirds host the No. 3 Alberta Pandas in a battle for first place. A single point separates league leaders UBC from second place Alberta, thanks to a Thunderbirds' series sweep of the Calgary Dinos this past weekend.
The Thunderbirds took over Canada West supremacy this past weekend thanks to a pair of one-goal road victories, first a 4-3 affair followed by a 3-2 victory in Calgary. Alberta relinquished its first-place position after falling to the Manitoba Bisons in the back half of their weekend series, losing 4-3.
It will be the first meeting this season between the 7-1-2 host Thunderbirds and the 7-3-0 Pandas. UBC has won three straight while Alberta had its three-game streak snapped this past Saturday. UBC split last season's four game season series with a 2-2 record including a pair of home victories as the Pandas haven't won a game in Vancouver since November 24, 2012.
There's no question goaltender Samantha Langford has been an integral part of the team's success so far this season, having won seven of her last nine games, all starts. Langford has yet to surrender more than three goals in a single game this season, and has three shutouts to her name through nine appearances. The 7-1-1 UBC netminder also leads the Canada West in save percentage (0.946) and is in a tie for first for wins.
Alberta counters with Lindsey Post, who has started every game this year for Alberta sporting a 1.21 goals against average, a 0.944 save percentage and five shutouts. She sits in the league's top three in all three categories. Post is fully capable of stealing games too, as last year the Chelsea, Que., native broke the Canada West record with a staggering shutout streak of 351:18 minutes, including five straight shutouts, also a conference record.
Post will face a UBC team that's averaging 3.10 goals per game wile her counterpart Langford will have to be especially sharp against an Alberta team that leads the CIS in goals with 33.
Cue the intro for Jessica Kampjes, who leads the Pandas with a CIS-leading nine goals through 10 games, to go along with six assists and a stellar plus-15 rating. The 2012-2013 Canada West Rookie of the Year also leads the nation in game-winning goals, with three on the season including one this past weekend, and is currently in the midst of a six-game point streak.
Tatiana Rafter and Sarah Casorso have been the offensive leaders for the Thunderbirds, both with six goals, and five assists on the season, good for fourth in the Canada West. Casorso was recently announced to the Canadian roster for the 2015 Winter Universiade in Granada, Spain and will join Alberta's Kampjes and Tess Houston as some of the nation's best talent on display this weekend.
Keep an eye on Rebecca Unrau as well, as the fourth-year Humboldt, Sask., native is riding a five-game point streak and has at least a point in all but two of the Thunderbirds games thus far this season. Unrau has eight points through the season's first 10 games.
Puck drop on Friday is at 7 p.m. followed by an afternoon matinee at 2 p.m. on Saturday. Both games are at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds