Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – A four-goal explosion in the third period saw the UBC Thunderbirds down the Danish U-20 national team 4-0 Tuesday night in an exhibition matchup at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
With the Danes getting set to compete at the upcoming 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, the team faced its first pre-tournament contest against the Thunderbirds in an historic meeting that both sides had been looking forward to for some time.
The visitors badly outshot and out-chanced the 'Birds through the first two periods but thanks in large part to a terrific performance in goal by Rylan Toth, the game remained scoreless heading to the final frame.
Michael Stenerson finally got the 'Birds on the board on a 5-on-3 power play early in the third which kickstarted a flurry of chances around the Danish net. UBC then scored three more times within a two-and-a-half minute span to blow the gates wide open.
"In the first period, their pace of play was something we haven't seen maybe all year," said an impressed UBC head coach Sven Butenschon. "The last couple days, hanging out with their staff and their manager and talking hockey, getting different perspectives from a European team, it was cool we could be a part of their journey before the tournament and hopefully we were able to help them."
The T-Birds were outshot 23-6 through 40 minutes, but UBC put 18 pucks on goal in the final 20 minutes while the Danes tested Toth just six times. Toth finished the game with 27 saves for the shutout.
"It was awesome," said second-year UBC forward Tyler Sandhu about the entire experience. "To have those guys in town, they're a great team, super fast and skilled. For us to be able to play with them was awesome, it was a good experience for us too and I'm happy we were able to get the win."
After the Danes went two periods without taking a single penalty, the 'Birds found themselves on a lengthy two-man advantage early in the third.
Stenerson took a perfect cross-ice feed from Tyler Sandhu and one-timed the puck over the shoulder of Danish goaltender Albert Adamsen to finally open scoring at the 3:08 mark. Adamsen had entered the game midway through the second replacing William Wessel Funke Rørth.
UBC doubled their lead exactly halfway through the final frame when captain Jerret Smith put a backhander on net that fooled Adamsen as it slipped between his pads. Austin Glover picked up the primary assist while Sandhu earned his second helper of the game.
Just over two minutes later, Chase Clayton made it a 3-0 UBC lead with a beautiful deflection off an Adam Rossignol pass. The 'Birds scored yet again just 25 seconds later when Sandhu calmed a bouncing puck and popped it home as the T-Birds rout was on with the second-year forward notching his third point of the night.
UBC finished the game 1-for-3 on the power play while the 'Birds killed off all three Denmark chances.
The Danes will play two more exhibition games starting Wednesday night against Finland at the Langley Events Centre before opening up the World Junior tournament against team Canada on Boxing Day.
The T-Birds are now off from game action until the first weekend of January when they travel to Calgary to visit the Mount Royal Cougars January 4 and 5.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds