Aaron Martin (UBC Thunderbirds)
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds women's hockey team took the first game of the Canada West finals on Friday evening, besting the Manitoba Bisons in a narrow 2-1 win at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
On the back of a stellar 27-save performance from Danielle Dube (New Westminster, B.C.), who maintains a Canada West playoff-leading 1.00 goals-against-average, and first period goals from Shiayli Toni (Saskatoon, Sask.) and Mathea Fischer (Oslo, Norway), the Thunderbirds were able to secure all-important first win in the best-of-three sieres.
Manitoba forward Lauryn Keen scored her team's lone goal, her fourth of the post-season.
With three goals scored in the first, it appeared that a high scoring affair was in order. However, with Dube and Manitoba's Amanda Schubert solid between the pipes, no goals were added through the final fourty.
Even though the end result was a win for his side, UBC head coach Graham Thomas felt Manitoba played a more aggressive game and sees room for his team to improve tomorrow night.
"[The Bisons] came out playing really hard...we had to respond, and we did," he acknowledged. "[But] we aren't satisfied. We didn't play our best tonight. We've got a better game to bring."
Toni potted the game's opening goal at 8:08 in the first, with Cailey Hay (Oakbank, Man.) and Jenna Carpenter-Boesch (Gray, Sask.) picking up helpers.
At 15:47 in the first, with a single second left on a UBC powerplay, Keen deflected a feed from Alanna Sharman past Dube, tying things at 1-1.
Keen and Sharman have combined for an impressive 16 points in the post-season.
Just over a minute after the tying goal, Fischer lobbed the puck over a sprawling Schubert from in tight, regaining the one goal lead late in the first.
Celine Tardif (Parksville, B.C.) and Kaylin Snodgrass (Longview, Alta.) logged assists on the play.
Dube came up huge at 11:20 in the second with a pair of back-to-back stops. Manitoba's Alana Serhan spun around in front of the T-Birds net and rifled a puck towards the goal, but Dube kicked it aside.
Karissa Kirkup located the rebound and blasted the puck again, but Dube smothered it, giving the 'Birds a much needed whistle.
Despite a few good chances for both teams, neither could navigate their way past Dube or Schubert, who were both rock solid through the second period.
At 3:52 in the third, UBC's Stephanie Schaupmeyer (Kelowna, B.C.) nearly found the elusive insurance goal with a quick one timer only feet from the Bison's goal line, but Schubert deflected the puck with a pad save.
With only five minutes remaining in the game, Manitoba began firing everything they could on net. Dube, and a series of gutsy blocks from UBC defenders, prevented the tying goal.
Thomas applauded Dube for her brilliant goaltending so far this post-season.
"She's just so solid…[and] gives everybody confidence. She was big for us tonight," he said.
The Thunderbirds will look to end the series on Saturday, March 5 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Puck drops at 7 p.m. (PT).
IMAGE CREDIT: Bob Frid/UBC Thunderbirds