Jeremy Laurie/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (1-0) shutout the Saskatchewan Huskies (0-1) 4-0 in the 2016-17 CIS women's hockey season opener for both squads on Friday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Cassandra Vilgrain and Nicole Saxvik led the 'Birds with a goal and two assists, while Alexa Ranahan and Madison Patrick scored one goal apiece.
A banner-raising ceremony preceded Friday night's action, with several T-Birds alumni on the ice to honour the 2015-16 Canada West women's hockey champions.
Huskies goalie Cassidy Hendricks stopped 19 of the 23 shots she faced, while UBC's Amelia Boughn recorded a 17-save shutout in her first Canada West game as a Thunderbird.
Boughn praised her team's collective efforts on Friday night, particularly throughout its time on the penalty kill, which lasted just under 11 minutes.
"Definitely a nice way to start out. The team helped me out a ton. [During] that five-on-three in the third period I didn't [face] a single shot."
The second period goals from Vilgrain and Ranahan marked their firsts as Thunderbirds, something the two recent additions to the team are very proud of.
"We got this opportunity to come and play here, and we're really appreciative of it. To be able to make an impact right away is really something that we aren't going to take for granted," said Vilgrain.
UBC head coach Graham Thomas was impressed with his team's overall performance, but cited the slow first period as evidence there is still room for improvement.
"We were happy with the response in the second and third, but we still need to get better at breaking the puck out," said Thomas. "Other than that I thought we played a solid game [and] Amelia played huge for us, especially in the first period."
The 'Birds struggled to find chances early in the first, with stingy a Saskatchewan defence only allowing UBC to land three shots on net. The Huskies, who recorded nine shots in the opening frame, couldn't navigate their way past Boughn, who came up big to stop Lauren Zary's shot from inside the left faceoff circle on a 2-on-1 at 4:42 of the first.
Veteran UBC forward Kathleen Cahoon found herself on a breakaway in the opening minutes of the second, but Hendricks tracked her deke and swatted aside her backhand. Cahoon's efforts reignited UBC's offence, leading to a full team swarm of the Huskies net and Saxvik's opening goal at 3:51 in the second. Vilgrain and Kelly Murray picked up helpers on the play.
Ranahan potted her team's second goal immediately after exiting the penalty box. Taking advantage of a misplayed puck from Hendricks, Ranahan sailed around the goaltender and sent one into the wide-open net.
Vilgrain and Logan Boyd found themselves on a two-on-one late in the second, when Vilgrain roofed the puck blocker side. Madison Patrick scored UBC's fourth at 14:40 in the third, leading the 'Birds to the 4-0 win.
The two teams will face-off for the second game of their weekend series on Saturday, October 8 at 4 p.m. (PT) at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds