Gideon Hill, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds dropped their second game of the weekend to the University of Alberta Pandas on Saturday afternoon, a 3-0 defeat for the T-Birds in a game that featured the top two teams in in the Canada West standings.
Alberta (5-2-1-0) utilized two first period goals and a late empty netter to get by the Thunderbirds (4-2-1-1) at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Despite the score line, the game was much closer then the impression it gives off. Both teams were a little fatigued after a game that went the distance all the way to a shootout Friday night where the Pandas were victorious.
"I thought we were going to respond today," said a disappointed UBC head coach Graham Thomas. "We made the right adjustments and the staff was confident we could pull it out, but unfortunately we came out on the wrong side of it today."
Saturday's loss ends UBC's six-game win streak as they drop consecutive contests for the first time this season while falling two points back of the Pandas who now lead the Canada West standings.
Panda's forward Amy Boucher was once again a factor in this game, as a brief two-on-one led to the opening goal for the visitors. Boucher came down the left wing with the puck and with only one defenceman back for UBC. As her teammate and fellow senior Hannah Olenyk simultaneously broke down the right wing, Boucher laid a perfect cross-crease pass to Olenyk who one timed the puck past the outstretched glove of UBC goaltender Tory Micklash.
UBC applied pressure almost instantaneously, as Mathea Fischer had a golden chance for a tap-in off a nice pass by Hannah Clayton-Carroll, but Alberta netminder Kirtsen Chamberlin made a beautiful sliding pad stop to keep her team in the lead.
Alberta's Amy Poznikoff came into this game second in Canada West scoring, and after being held pointless Friday was out for revenge in this one. As UBC had the puck inside the Pandas zone on their first power play of the game, the T-Birds turned the puck over which led to the aforementioned Poznikoff jumping on a loose puck and going in on a partial break. She went backhand, forehand and then five-hole past Micklash, giving Alberta a massive 2-0 lead with 12 seconds left in the first period.
The T-Birds came out firing in the second period, with the home team having a five-on-three for four minutes, but unfortunately were unable to capitalize despite the brilliance from rookie Emma Hall who created numerous chances for the hosts. Alberta went on a full two minute five-on-three of their own but were unable to connect with more terrific penalty killing from the 'Birds.
Down by two after two, UBC almost connected on a partial break themselves early in the final frame as they poured on the pressure. Logan Boyd broke down the right wing and past an Alberta defenceman, but her shot through bodies was denied by the pad of Chamberlin.
Micklash was pulled with two-and-a-half minutes to go, but it was Poznikoff striking again, finding the empty net from a sharp angle to put the game on ice.
Saturday marked the first time in the last five meetings between these two teams to have the game end in regulation.
Alberta finished 0-for-8 on the power play, while the Thunderbirds finished 0-for-5. Micklash allowed two goals on 23 shots, meanwhile Chamberlin denied all 15 she faced for her second shutout of the season.
"Our penalty kill was great, we made some adjustments from yesterday that paid off for us as we did not allow one on a power play," added Thomas. "They had one of the top power plays in the league coming into today, but our goaltending and penalty killers were excellent, so to shut them down on the extra man was a good silver lining for us."
Both teams have a bye week next weekend before UBC visit Saskatchewan the following Friday and Saturday. The Pandas will once again be on the road as they visit the University of Regina.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds