Vancouver, BC – This weekend is all about UBC and Alberta. The two schools face off against each other in men’s hockey, women’s hockey, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s volleyball, and women’s volleyball.
For the Thunderbirds men’s hockey team (6-4-2) which currently sits in fourth place in the Canada West, they will face the No.1 ranked Golden Bears (11-1-0) in the not so friendly confines of Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton. However, UBC is the only team this season to defeat Alberta. Since that loss on September 27, the Golden Bears have rattled off 10 straight victories. UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz‘s recipe for success is pretty straight forward.
“Hard work, compete every shift, puck management, and it doesn’t hurt to have a little luck as well,” said Kuntz.
The Thunderbirds and Golden Bears faced each other in the opening weekend of the season. Alberta won the first game 3-2 and UBC took care of business the following night 5-2.
Weekend splits have been a common theme thus far for the Thunderbirds. They have split four of the team’s first six weekends. Kuntz explains why it is tough to sweep a weekend series.
“This is a real good league with lots of good players and coaches and often times the winning team after the first game may not be quite as hungry on Saturday night. Usually the losing team comes out with a lot of fire and motivation to right a previous wrong. However, we want to be a top flight team in this league, and top flight teams sweep on the weekend.”
One key that could help the Thunderbirds knock off the Golden Bears is an improved power play. UBC has struggled this season scoring just five goals on the man advantage. Over their last four games the Thunderbirds are 0-for-20 on the power play, a stat Kuntz desperately wants to change.
“We need to move the puck around quicker to create chaos and then get pucks and bodies to the net to have success. We believe in our group and know we will get there, but we do need our best players to step up and behave like our best players in order to take advantage of our power plays.”
One of UBC’s best players remains questionable for this weekend. Nate Fleming who leads the team in scoring, has missed the last three games due to injury.
Meanwhile the Golden Bears boast the top two scorers in the league in Jordan Hickmott (12g, 11a) and TJ Foster (10g, 11a).
You can watch the games live at canadawest.tv. Puck drop is 6:00 pm PST on Friday night and 5:00 pm PST on Saturday night.