Gideon Hill, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (8-3-3-3) were victorious in their first game of the 2019 calendar year, utilizing two second period goals and a defensively strong third period to get past the Mount Royal University Cougars (6-9-1-1) 2-1 on Friday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
After finishing 2018 with three wins out of four games, the T-Birds were looking to carry that great form in the New Year.
It is never easy to find your feet quickly after a long break, and it showed for both teams in the first period with limited opportunities. Although UBC led in shots 12-5 after 20 minutes, there was still a lot to play for with the home team looking to start the year on a high note.
"We outshot them and got frustrated that we could not find the net, but we had to keep playing and we were happy how that second period turned out," said UBC head coach Graham Thomas.
Mount Royal had a golden opportunity to start the second frame as their leading scorer Breanne Trotter brought the puck down the left wing on a partial break. UBC netminder Tory Micklash sprung out of her net and had to make a brisk blocker save, keeping the game scoreless.
Following a massive penalty kill for the hosts in which they limited the Cougars to just a couple shots, the T-Birds were awarded an advantage of their own. The offensive zone faceoff was won by UBC, and the puck came to the point for Celine Tardif. UBC's captain released a shot that was beautifully redirected in front by leading scorer Hannah Clayton-Carroll. Tardif and Costales got the assists at 7:43 of the second period for the 1-0 Thunderbird lead.
Three minutes later, UBC doubled their advantage on a beautiful rush into Cougar territory. Logan Boyd brought it into the MRU zone, dropping it off to Emma Hall who was skating in behind her who then went cross seam to Rylind MacKinnon who wristed home her third goal of her rookie campaign.
The Cougars were not going to be denied in this one though, as their pressure on the UBC zone paid off with a fluky goal. Tianna Ko carried the puck across the UBC blue line and found a streaking Tatum Amy who skated towards the UBC net and took a shot that somehow fluttered over the shoulder of Micklash. It was a lucky one for the visitors but it counts for Amy's fifth of the year at 15:56 of the second period.
The home team kept the Cougars to the outside in the third, not allowing much going towards their own net. The only real opportunity for Mount Royal came late with a shot from the left boards by Jayden Thorpe, but again it was Micklash shutting the door.
Micklash stopped 12 of 13 for her eighth win of the season, meanwhile Zoe DeBeauville stopped 29 of 31 in the losing cause.
"We just had to stick to our plan and process, just working a little bit harder and getting into more of the dirty areas," added Thomas who admitted the difficulty in returning to game action after such a long break.
The victory puts UBC within two points of Manitoba for second place, meanwhile the loss keeps Mount Royal two points back of Regina.
These two teams go at it again Saturday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. PT at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre for their final meeting of the regular season.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds