Vancouver – The UBC Thunderbirds welcome the nation’s No. 5 ranked Calgary Dinos for a two-game weekend series as the Canada West men’s hockey season inches closer to the halfway point. The Thunderbirds are winners of three of the team’s previous four games and boast a 4-1-1 record at home while Calgary hasn’t lost a game in over three weeks.
The Dinos sit in second in the Canada West, with an 8-2-0 record, while the Thunderbirds sit four points back in a tie for third with the Mount Royal Cougars, thanks to a 5-3-2 record.
UBC is coming off a weekend split against the University of Regina Cougars, winning 4-2 on Friday before being shutout on Saturday in what was Regina’s first win of the season. Saturday’s most recent loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the T-Birds.
Though no UBC player has eclipsed the 10-point mark this season, the team has been led by strong numbers across the board, as three T-Birds sit in the top-20 in Canada West scoring. The trio of Nate Fleming, rookie Adam Rossignol, and Nick Buonassisi have collected 24 points combined, with Rossignol being the second leading rookie scorer with eight points.
Last season, the UBC Thunderbirds were 1-3 against the powerhouse Calgary Dinos, being outscored 17-10 over the four games. The lone Thunderbirds victory was perhaps one of the most electrifying of the season as UBC won a 3-2 affair on home ice in double overtime. Cole Wilson was the hero in that one getting the double-OT tally, in the process setting a Canada West record with fastest goal to begin a period (0:05).
Manning the net for UBC in seven of the team’s 10 games so far this season has been Matt Hewitt, who boasts a respectable 2.43 goals against average, and 0.914 save percentage, having amassed a 4-2-1 record. In his first season with the Thunderbirds, Eric Williams is making a strong case for more ice time as the backup has a 1-1-1 record having won his most recent start against the Lethbridge Pronghorns on October 17.
The Thunderbirds will look to solve Kris Lazaruk and Jacob DeSerres as the Calgary tandem have dominated the Canada West goaltending stats this season. Lazaruk has a CIS leading 0.80 GAA and a sparkling 0.963 save percentage to go along with a 4-1 record, identical to the record of DeSerres (1.61 GAA & 0.935 SV %). DeSerres was last year’s CIS Goaltender of the Year. The duo has split the load equally each weekend resulting in a CIS-leading save percentage, goals against average, and cumulative goals allowed.
The Dinos are currently riding a six game winning streak after a shocking home-and-away weekend sweep courtesy of the Mount Royals Cougars, the only blip on Calgary’s season this season. If UBC is able to keep Calgary’s scoring in the low single digits, the T-Birds have a real shot at doing some damage. Both teams have scored near identical amounts of goals, while Calgary has had relative low success on the power play (18.0%), though the Dinos make up for that with the CIS second-leading penalty kill (88.9%).
Leading all defenceman in Canada West scoring, Kodie Curran enters the weekend as the Dinos top scorer with four goals and nine helpers. After compiling a fairly incredible sum of six points in the season’s first two games, Curran has cooled off slightly averaging just shy of a point-per-game thereafter. Prior to the start of the Canada West season, Curran was the sole invitee amongst defenseman to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Rookie Camp, which also featured Jonathan Drouin.
Friday’s game will be played at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at 7 p.m. while Saturday’s game takes place at Father David Bauer Arena at 7 p.m.