Manitoba’s game-winning goal came 1:32 into the third period by rookie Joel Schreyer, and an empty-net goal in the dying seconds of the game made the final 3-1 in favour of the Bisons.
UBC goaltender Eric Williams stopped 32 of 34 shots that came his way.
“I thought we played hard, but we just didn’t finish on chances that we had,” said UBC’s Anthony Bardaro, who had the lone goal for the Thunderbirds in the loss.
Bardaro opened the scoring for the Thunderbirds 16:20 into the game, firing a well-placed shot into the top corner of the Manitoba net. Third-year defensemen Linden Saip and Neil Manning were credited with the assists on the play.
The Bisons tied the game with a goal from fourth-year Darren Bestland in the final minute of the first period, resulting in a score of 1-1 heading into the intermission. Bestland scored his second goal from long range into an empty Thunderbird net, as Williams was on the bench for the game’s final minute.
“Personally I need to be a guy that contributes offensively,” said Bardaro. “As a team we need to focus on getting pucks deep and playing simple hockey.”
Overall the Thunderbirds controlled the pace of the second period. Led by a spirited effort from Bardaro, the Thunderbirds worked to quickly and efficiently exit the defensive zone and aggressively bring pucks to the Manitoba net. However, Bison goaltender Deven Dubyk stood his own in net, although the Thunderbirds didn’t force him to be spectacular.
“Our defense eliminated the shots from the inside,” said Dubyk, who made 27 of 28 saves on the afternoon. “Our penalty kill did a good job – no goals against this weekend.”
Dubyk continues to advance in the Canada West leaderboards, now third in the conference with a 1.95 goals-against average.
“It’s a tight division, and for us to come in to [UBC] and get two wins is great to do in this league,” said Dubyk, who only allowed two goals on 62 shots through the weekend series.
The Thunderbirds had difficulty producing on the powerplay yet again in the game.
A four-minute double minor to Manitoba’s Bestland in the second period saw UBC with few chances, having difficulty maintaining possession in the offensive zone. In the past eight games UBC has zero powerplay goals on 36 attempts; the team has lost six of those eight games.
The lack of execution is not lost in the Thunderbirds’ locker room.
“What they got we gave them,” said Manning after the game. “Obviously we’re not working hard enough.”
The Thunderbirds (6-8-2) now drop two points behind Manitoba (8-8-0) in the competitive Canada West conference, and sit tied for fifth with 16 points. The Bisons take lone possession of the fourth spot in conference standings – the last spot for a home playoff berth.
The Thunderbirds will look to rebound on the road next weekend against the University of Calgary, a team they split with two weekends ago.
“We just need to push that little bit harder in order to get goals,” said Manning.
The two games in Calgary will be the last games of the first semester. All teams will take a break for the remainder of December, and will return to action in the new year.