Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (20-4-3-1) suffered a rare home-ice loss to close out the regular season falling 2-0 to the visiting Mount Royal Cougars (10-13-1-4) on senior's night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre Saturday.
Down a pair of goals after two periods, the T-Birds pressed hard in the third and despite nearly a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage were unable to beat Zoe DeBeauville who made 24 saves for her second shutout of the season.
"We were a little bit drained mentally," said UBC head coach Graham Thomas.
"Their team was revved up to play us and we just didn't seem to have the same fight and energy and I think a lot of it had to do with the festivities and the emotion of our eight seniors leaving."
Much like the first period Friday night, neither team put up much by way of shots on goal through the opening period but the Cougars did get out to a 1-0 lead. Shawni Rodeback opened scoring with her fourth of the season at the 12:32 mark as her shot from high in the zone got through traffic and past Amelia Boughn.
The Cougars doubled their lead on the power play with less than two minutes remaining in the second as Channia Alexander scored her second of the season from Reanna Arnold and Tianno Ko setting the T-Birds up for the possibility of yet another third period comeback. Only this time it was not to be.
The T-Birds pulled Boughn for the extra attacker with two minutes remaining and enjoyed some solid time in the offensive zone as they pushed to close the gap but just couldn't manage to get anything into the net while several other shots were blocked or sailed wide.
The 'Birds finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and out shot the Cougars 24-17.
Prior to puck drop all eight graduating seniors were honored in front of friends and family ahead of their final regular season game with the Thunderbirds. Kelly Murray, Nicole Saxvik, Katie Zinn, Haneet Parhar, Jenna Carpenter-Boesch, Emily O'Neill, Melissa Goodwin, and captain Stephanie Schaupmeyer were all presented with a momento at centre ice in a very special moment.
"To be a part of this team has been a highlight of my life," said O'Neill who played in her 125th career game with the Thunderbirds Saturday and is now looking forward to a run at an elusive national championship.
"Since my first year and our first trip to nationals it feels like there's been some unfinished business. It's something that's in everyone's hearts and minds so this opportunity is really exciting."
"The things they have accomplished in their time here is truly remarkable," said Thomas. "The amount of records set and new bars raised is amazing and we're just really proud of them."
The loss is just the fourth all season in regulation for the T-Birds who close out the year with an all-time team best record of 20-4-3-1. UBC's 23 total wins will go down in the history books tied for the most in Canada West history.
"This was our last opportunity to learn before going on a playoff championship run and in the long-run I think this loss will be good for us," added Thomas.
The Thunderbirds will now enjoy a bye week through the Canada West quarter-finals and will face the lowest remaining seed in a semifinal series starting February 24th at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds