Rachel Villari (UBC Athletics)
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team celebrated a 2-1 victory over the visiting Manitoba Bisons Friday night, extending their winning streak to five games.
With the win, the Thunderbirds are now 5-2-0, while the Bisons are 2-5-0.
In response to an early Bisons goal merely 1:51 into play, UBC rose to the challenge by potting back-to-back goals of their own before the first period was half over, and then maintaining their one-goal lead for the remainder of the game – more than 51 minutes – to secure their win.
"I was proud of our girls," said UBC head coach Graham Thomas, following the game. "This is a good team, they have a strong lineup and I was impressed with how we responded as a team. We talked about how we got scored on early and that wasn't in our plan. But we also talked about a plan for responding, and so how we responded by scoring two goals in three minutes and then shutting them down… the group kept it going. They got the momentum back and played with that lead for such a long period of time. And none of that was easy to do."
The Bisons' goal came shortly after puck drop when forward Nicole Carswell intercepted fourth-year forward Katie Zinn's (Coquitlam, B.C.) pass in front of the Thunderbirds' net. The puck took an odd bounce off of the Manitoba forward's shin guard and she was able to control it enough to fire it over fifth-year goaltender Samantha Langford's (Pense, Sask.) glove for their first and only tally of the night for the visitors.
But UBC did not yield. Less than five minutes later, at 6:40, a scramble behind the net distracted both 'Birds and Bisons alike as the puck slipped out and fourth-years Nicole Saxvik (North Vancouver, B.C.) and Stephanie Schaupmeyer(Kelowna, B.C.) pushed it to Rebecca Unrau (Humboldt, Sask.), the T-Birds' leading scorer. Unrau was able to slip the puck pass Manitoba netminder Rachel Dyck before she could react.
Less than three minutes later, Zinn notched the game-winning goal, making up for her earlier giveaway. Third-year defenceman Melissa Goodwin (Burlington, Ont.) was taken down in front of the net, preoccupying the Bison defence and Dyck, allowing third-years Kathleen Cahoon (Calgary) and Devon Morrison (Anacaster, Ont.) to feed Zinn the puck.
The Thunderbirds killed off all five Bisons power plays, including a five-on-three at the end of the first.
Manitoba had two power plays in the final 10 minutes and also pulled Dyck with about 1:15 remaining, to give the team a man-advantage three times.
The biggest chance for the Bisons came at 13:45, when second-year Logan Boyd (Waterdown, Ont.) was serving a penalty for body checking. The puck took an unexpected bounce out of UBC's zone and Manitoba got a breakaway.
Fourth-year defenceman Kelly Murray (Calgary) tried to make it back as fast as she could, but Langford saved the T-Birds' lead with an incredible point-blank block. She gave up a rebound, but corralled the ensuing shot, too, ensuring the 2-1 lead would stand up.
"Our team response to that first goal early on was responsible for the win," Thomas reiterated. "We talked about the process of responding as a group earlier today. We were like, 'OK, we get scored on, what do we do?' And we just talked about how the bench gets up after and that next line is accepting the challenge of getting momentum back and just going one shift at a time, winning battles, getting the pucks in their zone, creating some havoc and just upping our level. And that was the difference tonight, wasn't it?"
The Thunderbirds and Bisons meet tomorrow for a Saturday matinee rematch. Puck drop is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds