By Rachel Villari (UBC Sports Information Assistant)
The No. 9 University of British Columbia women's hockey team defeated the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 5-1 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre Friday evening.
The game was an emotional one, as captain Sarah Casorso played her final regular season matchup at 'The Doug' before jetting off to represent Canada at the FISU Games in Granada, Spain this Saturday. In her fond farewell, she notched two goals in the third to help lift UBC over Lethbridge.
"(Sarah) Casorso's done a lot for this program," UBC head coachGraham Thomas said following the win. "This win was a good way to send her off. I know she'll do well in Spain, she'll represent UBC really well and come back and join us for playoffs."
No one was able to make their way onto the board in the first, despite a few good looks for the Thunderbirds. Right out of the penalty box, Tatiana Rafter commanded control of the puck in the neutral zone and charged toward the net. She dumped the pass behind her for Emily O'Neill who fired a shot on goal, but was unable to find the back of the net. Rafter sprung into action again with a breakaway in the last minute of the period when UBC was on the power play. She dangled in front of Pronghorns goaltender Crystal Patterson but was unable to slip it by her.
The first goal of the game came late in the second, when Kathleen Cahoon fed Jenna Carpenter-Boesch a pass from behind the net. Carpenter-Boesch snapped it past the Pronghorns for her first goal of the season. Three minutes later came the Thunderbirds' second of the night, off of a blooper of a shot from Rebecca Unrau. Patterson bobbled the puck and it hoped over her shoulder for Unrau's ninth goal of the season. With it, she joins Rafter and Nicole Saxvik among UBC's top scorers.
The 'Birds further secured their lead with a goal early in the third from Rafter, her 10th of the season putting back in the lead among UBC goal scorers. She drove the net and snapped the puck high glove-side, faster than Patterson could respond to.
Casorso ended her regular season career on a high note, notching two goals late in the game. Her first came from a pass from Nikola Brown-John. The assist was Brown-John's second of the night and her fifth of the year. She flipped her second in right off of a UBC faceoff win in the last minute of play. The 'Birds were on the power play and she was able to slap it in from the high point for her eighth of the year, and 19th regular season goal of her five-year career.
The 'Birds were unable to maintain their shutout however as the Pronghorn's fought back with five minutes left in the third. The Pronghorns had been gaining momentum throughout the latter half of the game, beginning to catch up to UBC's 33 shots with 23. Chelsea Kasprick was able to poke the puck through Danielle Dube's cluttered crease for Lethbridge's only goal of the game. The point is Kasprick's first of the season, and it was unassisted as she persevered through a pile of bodies in front of the net.
"They played us hard," Thomas said. "They came out playing well. We tried our best to refocus and get back to playing our game, but, it's human nature when it's four-nothing late in the game to kind of relax a bit. I suppose that's the lesson we learned tonight, to never let up at any point in the game. Anything can happen."
Lisa Trainor was also honoured along with Casors prior to the game as graduating players.
"Sarah, Lisa, and the senior class have done a lot for the program," Thomas said following the win. "They had 10 wins in their first three years here. And now they've just had their 70th win—80th total, if you include playoffs and everything. They've been an integral part of turning the program around and that comes from the players. It comes from the players in this [graduating] group, as well as the other classes that had played alongside them, but this group's been a big part of that. So it's hard to say goodbye to them, it's a little bittersweet."
Patterson made 28 saves on 33 shots in net for Lethbridge, while Dube turned aside 22 of 23 for the home team.
Saturday's rematch will commence at 7 p.m. PT at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver.
Photo of Sarah Casorso (left) and Lisa Trainor (right) by Wilson Wong/UBC Thunderbirds