Eoin Colquhoun, Pronghorn Athletics
LETHBRIDGE – Following combining for 10 goals the previous night, both teams made a concerted effort on the defensive side of the puck Saturday afternoon but in the end the outcome was the same as Friday night as the UBC Thunderbirds completed the season opening sweep of the Lethbridge Pronghorns, holding on for a 3-2 victory.
Friday night, UBC opened the 2018-19 season with a 6-4 victory and improve to 2-0 on the season.
Landon Gross scored both goals for the Pronghorns, while Austin Verterl, Quentin Greenwood and Carter Popoff scored for the Thunderbirds.
In both creases, goaltenders were making their first career starts. T-Birds Patrick Dea 29 saves, while Taz Burman who came in relief last night for the Pronghorns was the busier of the two goaltenders and made 45 saves in the loss.
"We still have a lot to clean up in our play but there were some elements that we can build on," said first-year head coach Murray Nystrom. "I am still learning about this group but overall I was happy with the effort from the guys."
"We need to get better on both specialty teams, we have a lot more potential in those areas."
On the weekend, the Pronghorns were 1-for-11 on the power play and UBC scored five goals on 10 opportunities in the two games.
Following a relatively even and scoreless opening frame, Austin Vetterl got the Thunderbirds on the scoreboard only 3:22 into the season period. Tyler Sandu corralled a loose puck off a Pronghorn turnover and found Verterl in the slot, who beat Taz Burman for his first of the season.
T-Bird freshman Quentin Greenwood picked up his first career goal just shy of 12 minute mark to double the Thunderbirds lead.
After a well-timed time-out by Pronghorn new boss Murray Nystrom, the Pronghorns cut into the Thunderbirds lead. Senior Justin Valentino feed newcomer Landon Gross from behind the net and Gross made no mistake, picking up his first goal in his first game as a Pronghorn.
Shot heavily favoured the Thunderbirds in 20 to 6 in the period but only carried a one goal lead into the final 20 minutes.
Coming off a four power play goal Friday night, the Thunderbird regained their two goal with another power play marker. Carter Popoff picked up his third goal of the weekend, walking into the top of the circle and beating a screened Burman high to the glove.
However, the two goal lead was short lived as the Pronghorns responded only 33-seconds later. Gross picked short side on T-Birds goaltender Patrick Dea to score his second of the game and bring the Pronghorns back within one.
Despite having their opportunities in the final minutes, the Pronghorns were unable to find the equalizer as Patrick Dea shut the door earning his first win of the season.
The Pronghorns head south next week to face off against some NCAA talent in the Western Michigan Broncos and the Ferris State Bulldogs. Pronghorns will return home on October 26th in a faceoff against the University of Calgary Dinos. The Thunderbirds are off next weekend and host the Mount Royal Cougars the following weekend.
Photo by: MPP Photography