MHKY: Buonassisi scores double OT winner to complete ‘Birds sweep

MHKY: Buonassisi scores double OT winner to complete ‘Birds sweep

Jeff Sargeant, UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – It was Nick Buonassisi who played the double overtime hero for the UBC Thunderbirds (12-9-1) Saturday afternoon scoring the game winner to defeat the Lethbridge Pronghorns (8-11-3) 4-3 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.

Tyler Sandhu made a bank pass along the left wing boards to the fifth-year forward who sniped a perfectly placed shot from below the faceoff circle over Garret Hughson's shoulder to give the T-Birds a fourth straight win.

The 'Birds rallied back on three different occasions and never held a lead while responding to each Pronghorns goal.

Down 3-2 in the final minute of the third, T-Birds goaltender Matt Hewitt headed to the bench for the extra attacker. Then with 33 seconds remaining, Matt Revel deflected a Jerret Smith shot for his second of the game to force overtime.

The game only got to double overtime thanks to a Matt Hewitt save-of-the-year candidate in the final minute of four-on-four. The fifth-year goaltender was on his back after a scramble in the crease when the puck came back out to the slot. Blake Orban let a quick shot go but Hewitt reached up with his glove and deflected the puck to the boards.

Hewitt finished with 44 saves for his fourth straight win and tenth of the season. Hughson was equally as busy making 38 saves in the loss.

The Pronghorns opened scoring late in the first when Brandon Clowes slipped the puck off Hewitt's arm and in for his second of the season at the 17:37 mark. The 'Birds pressed late for the equalizer but headed to the second down by a goal.

UBC tied the game 8:53 into the second with Revel's first of the night. The rookie forward one-timed a perfect feed from Carter Popoff for his sixth of the season. Smith picked up the second assist, one of two points in the game.

Less than five minutes later the Pronghorns re-took the lead with Mitchell Maxwell's team-leading eighth, beating Hewitt from the slot on a feed from Brooks Maxwell. But the 'Birds were able to respond on a terrific solo effort by Chase Clayton. After digging the puck out of the corner, Clayton went behind the net and tucked home the wraparound for his fifth of the season.

The 'Horns once again went in front on a Clint Filbrandt power play goal four minutes into the third. Artsiom Kalashnikov and Justin Valentino had the helpers. Lethbridge held the lead until the final minute when Revel sent the game to extra time.

Filbrandt's first of the season was the 'Horns' lone power play goal on three chances while UBC finished 0-for-4.

The Thunderbirds have now won five of their last six games and sit alone in fourth place, one point back of Manitoba and two ahead of the Mount Royal Cougars.

The 'Birds are home again next weekend to face the third-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies. The Pronghorns host the Alberta Golden Bears for a doubleheader Friday and Saturday.

PHOTO: Bob Frid, UBC Thunderbirds