VANCOUVER – The No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team returns to action this weekend at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre with a pair of games against the Mount Royal Cougars.
With 12 games remaining in the regular season schedule, the Thunderbirds currently sit in fifth place in the Canada West with a record of 8-4-4 and 27 points. There is a six-team log jam atop the standings with just seven points separating league leaders Saskatchewan and sixth place Regina.
Meanwhile, it has been a tough year for the Mount Royal Cougars. They are 2-11-3 on the season and have just one win in its last 14 games.
"Our group is excited to get back at it," said UBC head coach Graham Thomas. "Despite their record, this will be a good challenge this weekend. Mount Royal is a desperate club and need some big points down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs and that makes for a scary opponent."
UBC had its own struggles over the last three weeks of November. After starting the year 8-1-2, the Thunderbirds were winless over their last five games (0-3-2). However, Thomas is confident his team is ready to go for the final stretch of the regular season.
"We need to get back to the things that made us successful at the start of the year. That is playing with toughness and more aggression, as well as tightening up our play in the defensive zone."
Heading into the season the league changed its point structure (3 points for a regulation win, 2 points for a overtime/shootout win, and 1 point for a overtime/shootout loss) in hopes of creating more separation in the standings. Obviously that hasn't happened with such parity across the board, making every point over the final 12 games that much more important.
"Playing such competitive games will only help us going into playoffs," said Thomas. "No doubt it will set up the Canada West for success on the national stage as long as we don't beat each other up in the process."
The Thunderbirds will have a familiar face back on the bench this weekend. Christi Capozzi returns to work as an assistant coach over the second half of the season. She returns to Canada after playing professionally in Sweden.
"We are excited to have Christi back in the fold," said Thomas. "She will bring a different perspective to our group and an instant connection with our players."
Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. Friday night and 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
IMAGED CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds