By Rachel Villari (UBC Sports Information Assistant)
VANCOUVER — The UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team defeated the Manitoba Bisons 2-1 in a thrilling first game of the best-of-three Canada West semifinal series. The game came down to the wire as the Bisons made a last-minute comeback attempt, but ultimately, it wasn't enough to overcome the Thunderbirds.
UBC head coach Graham Thomas noted how important special teams would be in this series, and the Thunderbirds put that into action in tonight's victory. UBC scored one goal on the power play and killed off all six power play opportunities for the Bisons in the victory.
Although Manitoba controlled the puck for the majority of the first 10 minutes, UBC was able earn the only tally of the period. After rolling off the bench, Nicole Saxvik weaved in and out of Bisons defence all the way to the net. She circled around Dyck and fed the puck into the crease where Stephanie Schaupmeyer and Sarah Casorso bounced the puck between them and fed Tatiana Rafter at the faceoff dot for her rocket launch over Dyck's left shoulder for UBC's first goal of the game 8:58 into the game.
UBC maintained that lead into the second period, despite physical play mounting. In fact, they extended just 26 seconds into the period on the power play, as Kelly Murray's shot from the faceoff circle beat Dyck high to make the score 2-0. Twelve minutes later, UBC was hit with a double-minor, and played a man down for four minutes. The 'Birds blocked shots, dumped the puck, and played desperately, even earning a short handed rush on net, ultimately persevering through the situation, and went into the second intermission still in front 2-0.
Despite two chances in the third, UBC was unable to capitalize on the power play again. They held the Bisons off the scoresheet for a full 18 minutes before they finally climbed their way onto the board, earning their first tally of the night courtesy of Bisons captain Maggie Litchfield-Medd who beat Danielle Dube with just 1:25 remaining in regulation. For the remainder of the game Manitoba pulled Dyck for the extra attacker, but UBC was sure to shut them down in a thrilling end of the game. 2-1 was the final.
Dube stopped 23 of the 24 shots she faced, while Dyck made 21 saves on the night.
UBC finished 1-for-4 on the power play, while Manitoba was 0-for-6.
Game 2 is set for tomorrow afternoon at 3 p.m. PT at Father Bauer Arena in Vancouver.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds