Vancouver, BC – Manitoba’s Jordan DePape scored two goals in Friday’s game at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, including a late powerplay goal to lead the Manitoba Bisons to a 2-1 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds in an important conference matchup.
“It was a struggle for us to create offense [tonight],” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz. “They worked hard tonight, but we need our core group of players to step up and be counted on.”
After UBC’s Ben Schmidt tied the game at 1-1 in the earlier stages of the third period, DePape’s tip in front of the net with less than two minutes remaining in the game gave the visiting team the lead.
UBC Goaltender Matt Hewitt stopped 38 of 40 shots in the loss.
Despite an inspired third period, the Thunderbirds could not beat Manitoba goaltender Deven Dubyk a second time. Taking three minor penalties in the games final eight minutes, UBC was forced to play a player short for a significant portion of the games latter stages, ultimately leading to Manitoba’s game-winning powerplay goal.
DePape acknowledged the play of the Manitoba defensive unit in the win.
“Our defense’s gap control was very good tonight, and obviously our goalie gave us a chance,” said DePape.
Dubyk made 32 saves in the win, and made it very difficult for the Thunderbirds to build momentum and offensive confidence throughout the game. Dubyk is now fourth in the conference with a 2.02 goals-against average.
“Our mindset was just to play simple hockey,” said DePape. “We stuck to our game-plan and it worked for us.
DePape opened the scoring 3:02 into the first period, burying a rebound past Hewitt to open the scoring. The game would remain tied until Schmidt’s goal in the third period. With his two goals, DePape has seven goals on the year – good for fifth in the conference in that category.
After two periods of play containing relatively few quality scoring chances for the Thunderbirds, UBC was granted several opportunities in the third period. The Thunderbirds lone goal came 6:15 into the period immediately following the expiration of a Bison penalty. Just as Manitoba’s Justin Augert stepped out of the penalty box, Schmidt took a pass from Neil Manning in the slot and fired the one-timer past Dubyk for the first and only time in the game. Second-year forward Greg Fraser was credited with the secondary assist on the goal.
The Thunderbirds would pull the goalie for the extra attacker in the game’s final minute, but to no avail.
“We came with a lot of hard work but we’re still making the same mistakes,” said Schmidt. “We’re having a hard time finding our game right now.”
With the loss the Thunderbirds fall to 6-7-2, now tied with Manitoba (7-8-0) with 14 points on the season.
UBC has had difficulty finding the back of the net as of late, netting only two goals in their past three games – though all three games were against top-five ranked goaltenders in the league.
“When you’re struggling to score goals you have to simplify your game,” said Schmidt. “The fancy plays aren’t going to work; what’s going to work is hard work and getting to the net and getting pucks to the net.”
“This game is impossible to play if you’re trying to beat yourself and the other team,” added Kuntz. “We just continue to want to make it hard on ourselves.”
Moving forward, Schmidt noted the importance of focusing on individual aspects of the team’s game.
“Instead of trying to fix it all at once, we’re going to focus on one little detail of each and everyone’s game,” he said.
UBC will once again host Manitoba on Saturday afternoon in the second game of the 8th annual “Noonar” weekend, named after Rick Noonan, a former UBC athletic director and member of the UBC Sports Hall of Fame. Puck drop is set for 2:00 pm at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.