T-Birds win streak ends in close battle with Pandas

T-Birds win streak ends in close battle with Pandas

Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (14-2-2) suffered just their second loss of the season, snapping a 15-game win streak with a 2-1 loss to the visiting Alberta Pandas (8-4-3-3) Saturday at Father David Bauer Arena.

After UBC took the lead early in the second period with Nicole Saxvik's seventh of the season, the Pandas struck twice on the power play later in the frame taking the lead which they would not surrender.

The T-Birds failed to muster much offence in the final period putting up just three of their 14 total shots in the third. With starting goaltender Amelia Boughn on the bench for the extra attacker in the final 90 seconds, UBC had a couple strong scoring opportunities but had the puck blocked by Alberta's tenacious team defence.

"We had a tough time getting out of our zone," said UBC head coach 
Graham Thomas. "We just weren't as cohesive getting up the ice and because of that we didn't have good entries and good zone time and we were always a step behind."

Despite six minutes of power play time in the first period including 1:49 of 5-on-3, the Thunderbirds were unable to generate much while Dayna Owen made six of her 13 saves in the first 20 minutes.

UBC captain Stephanie Schaupmeyer echoed her coach's sentiments regarding the Pandas' work ethic.

"We play a lot of the same systems, they have a lot of skilled players," said the fifth-year forward. "But tonight they just executed a little better than we did and outworked us."

The T-Birds opened scoring 1:08 into the second as Saxvik finished off a 2-on-1 with Logan Boyd while being hooked streaking towards the Alberta net.

But the lead lasted all of seven minutes when the Pandas struck for their first power play goal of the period when Hannah Olenyk picked up a rebound in tight for her fourth of the season. The Pandas then took the lead at 14:37 when Sasha Lutz jammed the puck in for her third, also on the man advantage.

The Pandas finished the game 2-for-6 on the power play while the T-Birds went 0-for-3 and did not have a power play chance beyond the first period.

Boughn made 14 saves in the loss for UBC, the first time the 'Birds have failed to secure a win since the season-opening weekend in October against Saskatchewan.

While Thomas is disappointed to see the franchise's all-time record streak come to an end, he believes there is a silver lining to Saturday's loss.

"We would have loved to keep it going but big picture I think it's a valuable lesson for us to learn right now and see the desperation of Alberta and how hard they were coming at us, they just wanted it more," said Thomas. "We want to be playing our best hockey coming down the stretch. So our biggest goal now is to regroup and recover and get back at it."

The T-Birds hit the road for the first time in 2017 next weekend facing the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg.

"This loss is going to make us come back and look at what we're doing, look at our preparation," said Schaupmeyer. "Every weekend we know each team is coming out their hardest against us so it's on us to be our best as well."

The Pandas will travel to Regina next weekend for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the Cougars.

IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds