Len Catling, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – In a spirited and sometimes testy affair at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, the Saskatchewan Huskies (9-1) used a third period scoring barrage to overtake and beat the UBC Thunderbirds (5-5) by a score of 3-2 Saturday afternoon. The win gave the Huskies a two-game, weekend sweep over the 'Birds and kept them with a tight grip of first place in the Canada West.
Parker Thomas scored twice in 38 seconds early in the third period and when Logan McVeigh scored the Huskies third goal, UBC had watched it's one goal advantage evaporate in a mere 83 seconds.
Austen Glover had opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds in the game's second minute and Maxwell James made it a one goal game in the final one, but the 'Birds couldn't get the tying goal past Huskies goaltender Travis Child, who finished with 29 saves on 31 shots. Patrick Dea continued a run of strong play by UBC goaltenders, but ultimately took the loss on the afternoon, stopping 25 of the 28 shots fired his way.
"We battled, we competed, we were right there," said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon, who had challenged his players to come ready to play against the number two ranked team in Canada. "I thought we were the better team. We just couldn't quite close it."
The game was marked by a number of punishing and sometimes questionable body checks, including a vicious shot to the head of UBC forward Michael Stenerson, delivered by Huskie forward Carter Folk early in the second. Folk was given a major penalty and a game misconduct for targeting the head, but the 'Birds couldn't make the Huskies pay for it on the ensuing power play.
They also lost Stenerson for the rest of the game on the hit, who was noticeably woozy while getting helped to the UBC dressing room by the training staff.
The bad blood between the two teams continued in the third period. As Austin Vetterl feathered the puck to Matt Revel and had UBC looking like they would streak in on a two-on-one, Huskie blueliner Jesse Forsberg sped across the ice and pounded Vetterl into the boards. Seeing his teammate hurt on the ice, UBC's Tanner Faith rushed to Vetterl's aid and began jousting with Forsberg. Faith would end up receiving the only penalty from the altercation.
On the ensuing power play, Thomas ripped a one-timer past Dea giving the Huskies momentum.
"The game changed on that play," said Butenschon. "It was a tough call."
With less than a minute left and the 'Birds on a power play of their own, James was able to pounce on a loose puck in front of Child and rip it into the top of the net. Dea got to the bench for the extra attacker in the game's dying seconds, but a final flurry around the Huskie net couldn't provide UBC the equalizer.
"This is a tough league and it would have been really nice to get the win tonight," added Butenschon. "But we go on the road next week and get to play Manitoba and that will be a couple of huge games for us."
UBC will travel to Winnipeg for the two games series against the Bisons on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. Saskatchewan travels to Calgary for back-to-back tilts against the Mount Royal Cougars.
PHOTO Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds