VANCOUVER – After being shutout in the previous two games, the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team responded in a big way, scoring four goals, including two by defenceman, en route to a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Dinos on Saturday night.
It was the first time this season that the Dinos have allowed more than three goals in a game, as the T-Birds offence gave goaltender Eric Williams an added cushion in his first career CIS home victory.
Wes Vannieuwenhuizen scored his first career CIS goal in his 29th regular season game to put the Thunderbirds ahead 3-2 early in the third period before Luke
Lockhart potted the winner half a period later. Ben Schmidt and Jessi Hilton also got on the score sheet for the T-Birds while Dylan Busenius, Kevin King, and Elgin Pearce, with his team-leading seventh scored for the visiting Dinos
“Tonight we were much better at getting pucks to the net, especially from the blue line, and getting bodies in front of their goalkeeper,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz after the game. “Last night we weren’t executing on the simple plays, making things difficult on ourselves so tonight was a real turnaround.”
UBC improves to 6-4-2 while the No. 5-ranked Dinos suffer just their third loss of the season falling to 9-3-0. After a strong showing last night, Williams got the nod for the second time in as many games stopping 32 shots.
Calgary’s Colton Grant ramped things up a minute into the game as the Dinos assistant captain strolled down Broadway and rang one off the cross bar beating Williams up high.
After Hilton was called on a high-sticking double minor from a hit along the boards, Greg Fraser blocked a Calgary point shot and was sprung on a 2-on-1 with Nate Fleming but couldn’t convert which would cost the T-Birds moments later.
Busenius, the Calgary blueliner and product of three WHL teams, fired a shot through traffic a few strides into the offensive zone fooling Williams, who had practically no chance on the play, as he was screened by two of the T-Birds penalty killers.
Kodie Curran, the team’s leading point getter, and Kevin King, the Dinos captain, collected assists on the former Medicine Hat Tiger’s first career CIS goal.
It was only appropriate that Thunderbirds’ captain Schmidt would provide the equalizing goal as the defenceman erased a 133:10 minute scoreless streak for the Thunderbirds potting his first of the season. Schmidt took Hilton’s cross-ice feed from the far corner and wired one upstairs on DeSerres from the faceoff dot at the 13:01 mark of the first period.
Cain Franson, brother of Toronto Maple Leafs Cody Franson and former Vancouver Giant, had the period’s final opportunity missing on an open-net rebound as the first concluded in a 8-7 shot advantage for the Thunderbirds and a 1-1 tie.
The home team would take their first lead of the weekend when Hilton converted on a cross-ice Joe Antilla feed and gave no chance for DeSerres to get across the crease in time giving the third-year forward his first multi-point game of the season. The mark at 12:18 of the second would stand as the difference for the remainder of the period as UBC held a one-goal advantage, up 2-1.
The Dinos started the third on the power play and managed to tie the game up at 2-2 thanks to a beauty from King who had space in front of the net and went to his backhand beating Williams glove side at the 0:58 mark.
UBC took control again shortly thereafter when Vannieuwenhuizen potted his first goal as a Thunderbird after the former Vancouver Giant captain fired one from the point that fooled a screened DeSerres. UBC doubled its lead when Lockhart managed to sneak one past the Calgary netminder after jamming away on a loose puck in the crease.
The Thunderbirds had to overcome a two-minute, two-man advantage after Linden Saip and Dillon Wagner were called for a pair of penalties on the same shift. Williams was the team’s best penalty killer during that span as the ‘keeper made a number of key saves during that stretch.
Lockhart’s goal would end up being the game-winner as the Dinos added one late at the 19:04 mark of the third period courtesy of Pearce. A late penalty by Adam Kambeltz sealed the fate for the Dinos as he was called for tripping, followed by a game misconduct. The game would end on a sour note with another misconduct. In total, 28 minutes of penalties were handed out in the final 15 seconds.
A night after Kris Lazaruk shutout the Thunderbirds en route to setting a new Canada West regular season record for longest shutout streak (226:14 minutes), the team turned to DeSerres in the latter half of the two-game weekend series. DeSerres finished with 19 saves on the night, his second lowest total of the season.
The Thunderbirds hit the road once again next weekend, as UBC will face a familiar foe in the No. 1-ranked Alberta Golden Bears (11-1-0), who have just one loss to their name this season, which UBC handed them in the season’s second game.
Calgary will remain on the road and travel to Winnipeg for a weekend series against the Manitoba Bisons who have a 5-7-0 record after being swept by Alberta this weekend.