MHKY: Special teams come through for T-Birds win over Regina

MHKY: Special teams come through for T-Birds win over Regina

Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – Three goals in just over two minutes powered the UBC Thunderbirds (2-3-0) to a 4-2 comeback victory over the Regina Cougars (1-3-1) Friday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

After a frustrating night on offence thanks in large part to Regina goaltender Michael Herringer, the 'Birds took the game over midway through the third scoring a pair of power play goals 40 seconds apart followed by an Austin Vetterl shorthanded tally to earn their first home win of the season.

"Yeah we scored the goals and we won the hockey game but for me, the habits just got better and the battles got better and we got stronger on pucks and we didn't cheat anywhere," said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon about a terrific final period. "If you play the odds and play the game the right way, eventually good things will happen."

Herringer turned aside 26 shots while Matt Hewitt shone even brighter in UBC's crease making 36 saves in the win.

"A huge credit to (UBC goaltending coach) Alex Auld, who encouraged me to stick to the program and work on good habits and tracking pucks," said Hewitt, who picked up his second win of the season. "Today I had a great mindset on tracking pucks and making myself big. I thought I was seeing pucks well today and I'm going to try to keep that momentum going forward for the rest of the season."

The T-Birds came out of the gate strong and got rewarded when Devan Fafard hammered home his first of the season on a low slap shot from the blue line just 93 seconds into the first period from Riley Guenther and Carter Popoff.

The Cougars evened the score at the 12:56 mark on a fluky bounce that saw Corwin Stevely credited with his first of the season. His initial wrist shot from the left circle was turned aside by Hewitt. The puck ricocheted off the boards into the crease, and bounced off the back of Hewitt's leg and across the line.

The Cougars took the lead halfway into the second on their second power play of the game on a Tyler King point shot.

The 'Birds out shot Regina 15-9 in the second but couldn't get another one past Herringer until the 9:51 mark of the third when Jerret Smith converted on a 5-on-3 power play with Tyler Sandhu and Vetterl picking up the helpers. Just 40 seconds later, Stenerson scored his second of the season from Vetterl and Matt Revel as UBC re-took the lead.

For good measure, Vetterl scored his team leading fifth of the season, his first short handed, finishing off a pretty passing play from Raymond Grewal and Nick Buonassisi.

The 'Birds went 2-for-6 on the man advantage while the penalty kill was a solid 4-for-5 against the Canada West's leading power play.

"We talked about how important special teams was going to be and it's nice to see those guys get rewarded," said Butenschon. "The penalty kill was pretty good too, we ended up blocking a lot of shots which was nice. When you get guys buying in and blocking shots, that's what hockey's about, that's what good teams do. And if we're going to go anywhere this year we're going to have to do that on a nightly basis."

The 'Birds have now won six straight games at home over the Cougars and can make it seven in a row with a win in Saturday's rematch.

"We didn't play how we wanted last weekend against Calgary and it showed with the results," added Hewitt. "Coming into this weekend we worked on team identity, worked hard in practice and we came ready to play and I think overall it was just a great team effort and we got the result we wanted."

Puck drop at Doug Mitchell Saturday is scheduled for 2 p.m. PT.

PHOTO: Wilson Wong/UBC Thunderbirds