Len Catling, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The Saskatchewan Huskies looked everything like the number two ranked team in Canada Friday night as they played a simple but lethal road game in beating the UBC Thunderbirds 6-1 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. The win moved the Huskies to 8-1 in the early days of the 2018-19 Canada West season while the Thunderbirds fell to 5-4 with the loss.
The Huskies blitzed UBC netminder Rylan Toth in the game's opening period, putting the puck behind the second-year puck stopper four times. The Huskies got goals from Jesse Forsberg, Carson Stadnyk, Parker Thomas and Levi Cable to take a stranglehold on the game. Cable made it 5-0 for the Huskies early in the third, minutes before Connor Gay rounded out the scoring for the visiting Dogs.
Adam Rossignol was the only Thunderbird to beat Huskie netminder Taran Kozun, as he slotted home the rebound off Matt Revel's breakaway miss in the dying seconds of third period, breaking Kozun's shutout bid.
Toth actually kept the game's score respectable, stopping 40 of the 46 shots the Huskies threw at him. The ice was definitely tilted on the evening, as Kozun faced only 18 shots, letting in just the one marker to Rossignol.
After the game, UBC head coach Sven Butenschon spoke about what his charges needed to do to bounce back in the rematch the two teams will play Saturday afternoon.
"They all have to look at themselves in the mirror and realize this is a very tough league," said the third-year bench boss. "Saskatchewan is a tough team, one of the best in the country, and if you're not ready to go, it's going to be a long night."
The 4-0 goal for the Huskies was a thing of beauty and killed all hope of UBC mounting a comeback. Kozun corralled a UBC dump-in behind his net and proceeded to fire a shoulder-height pass to Cable, who was streaking across the ice just outside of the Thunderbird blueline. Cable gloved the puck down to his stick before streaking in on Toth and firing the puck over his glove hand.
For good measure, the two players pulled off the exact same play early in the third period. Again Kozun fired a shoulder-high pass all the way from the goal line to the far blueline. This time, Cable gloved the puck down along the side boards and flew towards the Thunderbird net from the wing. His wicked wrist shot proceeded to hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounce down into the net.
UBC ended the game with 44 minutes in penalties, which led to Saskatchewan scoring two goals on their eight power play attempts. UBC went scoreless on their four opportunities with the man advantage.
"You're never going to win a game when you have to kill off eight power plays," said Butenschon. "But the guys know they have to be better and they will be Saturday."
The Thunderbirds and Huskies play the second half of the back-to-back on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. PT at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds