Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (3-3-0) got another stellar performance in goal by Matt Hewitt while Michael Stenerson scored his second game winner in as many games in a 3-2 win over the Regina Cougars (1-4-1) to complete the weekend sweep at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
The 'Birds spotted themselves a 2-0 lead after two periods but the Cougars stormed back in the third scoring twice in the first seven minutes. It then took all of 16 seconds before Stenerson was fed the puck in all alone on Michael Herringer, sliding it home for his third goal of the season.
"That's how you respond," said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon shortly after the win. "We always talk about the first shift after a goal or first shift of a period or last shift of a period, those are big momentum swings. It was a great play, a skilled play, I'm glad to see it worked."
Special teams were a big factor in Friday night's UBC win and the 'Birds' penalty kill continued its solid work going a perfect 4-for-4 Saturday. The T-Birds went 0-for-3 themselves on the power play with the first two lasting just a combined 1:24.
The 'Birds struck first for the second straight game, this time Adam Rossignol earning his first of the season on a gorgeous backhander that went top shelf at the 8:40 mark of the first period. Nick Buonassisi and Austin Glover picked up the helpers.
Manraj Hayer made his return to the UBC lineup after missing the last two games and celebrated with his first of the season, a beautiful finish on a Carter Popoff feed six minutes into the second to double the T-Birds' lead.
"He challenges other teams' defencemen, if you're up against him you have to be ready," said Butenschon who was glad to get one of his top forwards back in the lineup. "He was a handful for them and it was nice for me as a coach to have another body in there that didn't play last night and had some more energy in the tank."
Faced with a third straight road loss, the Cougars stormed out of the gate in the third finally getting one past Hewitt just 48 seconds in courtesy of Zak Zborosky. Ian McNulty then tied the game six minutes later with his second of the season.
After the ensuing faceoff the 'Birds quickly worked the puck into the Regina zone on an odd man rush with Stenerson finishing off the play while Matt Revel and Austin Vetterl picked up the assists.
Hewitt finished with 33 saves to go along with his 37 from the night before for a .946 save percentage on the weekend.
"His attitude's great, he works so hard during the week and tries to get better every day," said Butenschon of his veteran goaltender. "He's athletic, he's emotional, he's fiery. Sometimes that can go against you as a goalie but now he seems to be in that sweet spot of anticipation, reading the play, using his athleticism to his advantage, he looks great."
The win moves the T-Birds back to .500 ahead of two straight road weekends with a bye week sandwiched in between. UBC makes a trip to Lethbridge to face the Pronghorns next Friday and Saturday followed up with a visit to the Huskies before finally coming back home to face Mount Royal November 17-18. The Cougars will host Alberta at home next weekend.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/Thunderbirds