Thunderbirds set for Canada West semi final against Alberta

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Vancouver, BC –  The Canada West officially kicks into playoff mode this weekend with the women’s rugby conference championships being held in Calgary beginning Friday, October 17th.

The UBC Thunderbirds, along with the host Calgary Dinos, Alberta Pandas, and Victoria Vikes will all be vying for a Canada West Championship.

The top-seeded Dinos (3-1) will take on the Vikes (1-3) in the first semi-final on Friday, followed by the Thunderbirds (2-2) matching up against the defending CIS Champions from Alberta (3-1). The winners will play Sunday, October 19th in the gold medal game, while the semi-final losers will square off in the bronze medal game Sunday as well.

The winner of the Canada West Championship will advance to the CIS National Championship Tournament in Guelph, Ontario running October 30th through November 2nd.

UBC heads into the weekend after a two-week break. The Thunderbirds started off strong this season defeating Calgary and Lethbridge to open the season, but fell to Alberta and eventually Victoria in the final game of the regular season to finish 2-2 on the year. 

The Thunderbirds are led by scrum half Megan Hamm, fullback Gabrielle Hindley, fifth-year prop Carolyn McEwen, inside centre Mackenzie Lee, and fly half Paige Smith.

Smith led the Thunderbirds in scoring during the regular season with 21 points, good for third in the Canada West. Fifth-year Haley Glendinning was tops on the team with a pair of tries during the year, but unfortunately will not play in Calgary due to injury.

Alberta, ranked No.3 in the CIS, has won six CIS titles including the 2013 crown, running the table with a perfect 9-0 record. This year the Pandas started out 3-0, but lost in their final regular season game to their provincial rivals from Calgary 19-15.

Rebecca Fairbarn led the Pandas and the Canada West with 32 points on the season. Alanna Fittes and Morgan Patzert each had a team best three tries on the year.

2014 marks the third straight year the Thunderbirds and Pandas have met in the Canada West semi final. Alberta defeated UBC 79-0 in 2013 and 62-12 in 2012. 

UBC’s best finish at a Canada West Championship is second in 2004 and 2006. The Thunderbirds have been to one CIS National Championship Tournament finishing sixth in 2003.

Friday’s semi-final is set for 3:00 pm PST in Calgary and can be watched live at canadawest.tv.

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