Vancouver, BC – Across the Canada West goals are at a premium. Six of the eight teams in the conference are allowing less than three goals a game and there are four goalies who boast a goals against average under two.
The UBC Thunderbirds understand this all to well. Currently in the midst of a four game losing skid, UBC has just three goals over their last three games and are hoping to turn the tide against Calgary this weekend. The only problem is the Dinos have given up the fewest goals all season.
“Everybody is playing very stingy defence right now,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz. “Goaltending has been outstanding across the board. There isn’t one team that is struggling in net. Teams are thinking defence first. Look no further then last week against Manitoba, who regularly had four guys back.”
UBC started the season 5-2-2, but since have managed just one win in their last seven games. That win came over the Dinos back on November 8th.
“We’ve gotten away from a few things that made us successful early in the season,” said Kuntz. “We are not playing fast anymore and when we turn the puck over in the neutral zone we are not getting back. Our team needs to play in straight lines and attack if we want to have success.”
When it comes to offensive output, in the past the Thunderbirds have relied on likes of Cole Wilson and Brad Hoban to produce. Unfortunately, both have struggled to find the back of the net this season. Wilson, who scored 18 goals last year and averaged over a point a game over the last two seasons, has just four goals and seven points in 16 games this year, while Hoban has scored once in 12 games.
“When we have scored three goals or more this season we are 6-0, when we score two goals or less we are 0-8-2 – seems pretty obvious what we need to do,” said Kuntz.
Kuntz hopes a bus trip to Calgary this weekend will be a good thing for his team. As funny as it might sound, sometimes 10 to 12 hours on a bus together is good for team bonding.
“Every team has gone through funks this year,” said Kuntz. “It’s hard to struggle for long stretches without falling out of the playoff picture, so hopefully our funk is behind us and we can go into the break on a positive note.”
Calgary currently sits in second place in the Canada West with a record of 12-4-0. They have won three straight including a two-game sweep of their rivals from Alberta last weekend. UBC head into the weekend in sixth place in the conference with a record of 6-8-2.
The Thunderbirds and Dinos split two games earlier in the month at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Calgary won 3-0 on Friday November 7, while UBC rallied for a 4-3 win the following night.
Puck drop is 6:00 pm PST Friday night and 5:00 pm PST Saturday night. Both games will be played at Calgary’s Father David Bauer Arena.