MHKY: Big first period leads ‘Birds to sweep over Regina

MHKY: Big first period leads ‘Birds to sweep over Regina

Jeff Sargeant, UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – A four goal first period powered the UBC Thunderbirds to a 5-3 win over the visiting Regina Cougars Saturday afternoon at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Five goals by five different goal scorers and another good performance in goal from Patrick Dea completed the weekend sweep for the 'Birds who have now won four straight.

Already up 3-1 seven minutes into the opening frame, the 'Birds (9-5-0) gave themselves a three goal advantage heading into the second when Matt Revel completed a tic-tac-toe play with 25 seconds left for his second of the season.

The Cougars (2-11-1) clawed back with a Ben Duperreault power play goal in the second, his second tally of the game, and came within one after Tristan Frei scored with the extra attacker late in the third. But Tanner Faith executed a perfect bank shot off the glass and into the empty net to seal UBC's ninth straight home win against Regina and eighth straight over the Cougars overall.

"I loved our start, we came out real hungry, real sharp and executed in all facets of the game," said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon following another well earned win. "We managed to put some pucks behind the goalie and after that it was just a matter of playing smart hockey, staying in good spots, and good puck management because we were running out of steam with all the guys we had out."

The game wasn't without its challenges for the 'Birds who started the game with just nine forwards and finished with eight. Chase Clayton was ejected after a fight with Regina's Tyler Adams early in the second period.

But the T-Birds buckled down and grinded out another win while Dea earned his third victory of the season with 29 saves. Dawson MacAuley was strong again in net for the Cougars making 33 stops. Regina has now lost eight straight.

UBC got rolling on the first shift of the game when Jerret Smith drilled the puck over MacAuley's right shoulder for his second of the season. Joe Carvalho made a nifty behind-the-back pass to the T-Bird captain who opened scoring just 19 seconds in.

The Cougars responded, however, three minutes later when Duperreault capitalized on a deflected puck that got deep into UBC's zone. The second-year forward sped towards the puck after it bounced off the end boards and slammed it past Dea and into the net to tie the game at one.

But the 'Birds wasted no time restoring their lead as just 52 seconds later Tyler Sandhu scored his third of the season into a wide open net after MacAuley stopped a Carvalho shot from the point. The Regina goaltender had the rebound bounce right to Sandhu who was in the perfect spot to pick up the loose puck while earning his second point of the game. Austin Vetterl picked up the second helper.

Less than three minutes later, at the 6:56 mark, the 'Birds made it 3-1 when Riley Guenther deflected a Raymond Grewal pass from the boards right past MacAuley for his first of the season. Adam Rossignol chipped the puck forward along the neutral zone wall to Grewal who then found Guenther at the top of the crease.

Revel's late period marker to give the T-Birds the 4-1 lead was a thing of beauty. Carter Popoff stole the puck in the Regina zone, dished it quickly to Clayton who gave it back to Popoff. The former Vancouver Giant then slid it to Revel who was waiting at the top of the crease and completed the pretty passing play for what stood up as the game winner.

The Cougars cut into UBC's lead at the 5:29 mark of the second when Duperreault scored his second of the game, on the power play. Clayton was given an extra minor penalty in addition to his fighting major, giving Regina their first man advantage of the game and Duperreault beat Dea five-hole for his third of the season.

Still down 4-2 late in the third, Regina put MacAuley on the bench for the extra attacker which paid off. Tyler King's shot was stopped by Dea but Frei got just enough of his stick on the rebound to squeak the puck over the line, cutting UBC's lead to one.

Faith put the game on ice with his glass-and-out bank shot for his first of the season.

"It's a long season, we've had some ups and downs, but you take the points any chance you can get, you make hay when you can because at the end of the season, every point matters," added Butenschon. "We just have to keep this thing going, keep continuing to get better in practice and grow as a group."

Sandhu finished with a goal and an assist and now sits tied with Maxwell James for the T-Birds scoring lead with 12 points. Carvalho also had a multi-point game with a pair of helpers.

Next up for the streaking 'Birds is another home series next Friday and Saturday, this time hosting the Lethbridge Pronghorns to close out the 2018 portion of the season. The Cougars return home for a pair of games against the Mount Royal Cougars.

PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds