Jeremy Laurie (UBC Thunderbirds)
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team (9-6-2-2) defeated the Canada West-leading Alberta Pandas (11-7-0-1) 4-0 on Friday night at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre in Vancouver.
Both teams were hoping to carry momentum forward from last weekend: Alberta on the hunt for a third straight win and UBC looking to mimic last Saturday's offensive performance that resulted in a 6-2 win over Mt. Royal.
A major part of UBC's success was goaltender Danielle Dube (New Westminster, B.C.), who recorded her second shutout of the season. Her 25-save performance kept the 'Birds alive though a hard-fought 60 minutes that saw them out-shot 25-22.
Rebecca Unrau (Humboldt, Sask.) and Stephanie Schaupmeyer (Kelowna, B.C.) picked up a goal and helper each. Melissa Goodwin (Burlington, Ont.) scored the opening tally while Shiayli Toni (Saskatoon, Sask.) added an empty-netter to round out the offence. Celine Tardif (Parksville, B.C.) had two assists.
UBC head coach Graham Thomas was impressed with the way his team rallied together to outmaneuver such a strong opponent. "We knew we had to make some adjustments…they followed the plan and played with a lot of energy," he noted. "Everyone contributed. I'm happy with the effort tonight."
The Pandas had a good chance to open the scoring early as Lindsey Cunningham grabbed a loose puck at the right boards, curled at the faceoff circle towards the net and fired a wrist shot along the ice towards Dube, who made a pad save.
The lone first-period goal came from Goodwin at 10:16, with Haneet Parhar (West Vancouver) and Kelly Murray (Calgary) picking up assists. The goal was the first one Alberta has allowed in three games. Panda netminder Lindsey Post hadn't been scored on since November 28. She finished the night with 18 saves.
Late in the first with Natasha Steblin in the penalty box, Alberta's Tess Houston chased down a loose puck at the right boards in the UBC zone and cut behind the goal line before darting out front to sweep the puck towards the goal. However, Dube stayed with Houston and stopped her low shot with her blocker to prevent the shorthanded goal.
The T-Birds pressed for their second marker as they earned a four-minute power play at 17:22 of the first period, but Post was able to make two pad saves on Kathleen Cahoon (Calgary), who shot from just outside the Alberta crease. Post and the Pandas penalty killing kept the hosts from converting on five power plays.
A neutral zone feed from Unrau at 4:05 of the second sent Shaupmeyer in alone. After evading Alberta's backcheck, Schaupmeyer fooled Post with a nifty deke and sniped her third of the season.
UBC capitalized on the momentum boost and, less than a minute later, jumped to a commanding three-goal lead. Unrau snuck the puck past Post to secure her 19th point of the season, placing her in sixth nationwide for total points.
"It's never happened that I've [been part of] two goals as a line in one shift," said Unrau. "Our entire team was playing incredibly [well]…everyone was playing their positions right."
On their lone power play of the second period, the Pandas had a couple of good chances to break Dube's shutout bid. The best came from Cunningham, who redirected a high point shot in mid-air, forcing Dube to stop a bouncing puck with her left pad.
Shortly after that, Hannah Olenyk won a loose puck out of a scramble at the boards and fired a hard, high wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that Dube blocked with her shoulder. The rebound was pushed wide of the Thunderbirds' net.
Despite being outshot 9-5 in the third, UBC maintained the three-goal lead thanks to an impressive performance from Dube.
Alberta made the ambitious decision to pull Post with over six minutes left in regulation, allowing for a temporary 6-on-4 as UBC served a penalty. Solid UBC defence prevented the Pandas from generating any meaningful scoring chances.
At 17:10 of the third, Toni lobbed a backhand from centre ice and scored on the open net to make the score 4-0.
Alberta remains in first place in the Canada West standings with 34 points, while UBC now has 33. The Thunderbirds can overtake the Pandas on Saturday afternoon when the teams face off at 3 p.m. (PT) at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbirds Sports Centre.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds