Calgary, AB – The UBC Thunderbirds snapped their five-game losing streak tonight, defeating the University of Calgary Dinos 3-1. UBC and Calgary split their regular season contests 2-2.
‘Birds goaltender Eric Williams earned the first star of the game, stopping 26 of 27 shots and preserving through four penalty kills and an interference call late in the third. The team’s last win came when Williams was in net three weeks ago, also coincidently the second of a two game home series against the Dinos.
“To say we have been working against the odds lately would be an understatement,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz. “The players have really been leaning into it but just haven’t got many bounces. Bounces are earned and we earned a couple this weekend.”
The Dinos took another early lead, scoring three minutes into the first. Cain Franson passed to fellow rookie Aspen Sterzer who netted his first ever goal of his CIS career. After the contentious almost-game-winning goal last night at the Father David Bauer Arena, Anthony Bardaro was sure to get on the scoreboard this game, tucking away a tricky shot late in the first and sending the teams into the second tied 1-1.
UBC took control of the game in the second, gaining the lead for the first time all series. The same line to score in the first managed to connect yet again to push the ‘Birds ahead 2-1 five minutes in. This time, Bardaro fed Cole Wilson who found Manraj Hayer for the team’s first power play goal of the game. The goal was UBC’s first goal with a man advantage in their last 40 opportunities, a streak lasting an ugly nine games.
“Anthony’s (Bardaro) line with Manraj (Hayer) and Cole (Wilson) really worked well together,” said Kuntz. “They managed the puck well and attacked with a lot of speed. The key for them was that they competed real hard every shift and were a difficult line to play against.”
Williams made key saves in the last period, shutting out Calgary in the final forty minutes. Tensions rose as both teams were penalized for tripping and forced to play 4-on-4. Soon after matching penalties were doled out for roughing. In a last ditch effort to even up the score, Calgary head coach Mark Howell pulled Dinos goaltender Jacob DeSerres. Fortunately, Luke Lockhart was there to further solidify UBC’s lead, scoring an empty netter with less than a minute left in the game. 3-1 was the final.
The Thunderbirds head into the break with a record of 7-8-3, while Calgary is 13-5-0.
Eight of UBC’s first 18 games this year have been against the top two teams in the conference, Calgary and Alberta. They finished 3-4-1 against the Dinos and Golden Bears.
UBC will return to action the first weekend in January when they head to Manitoba to take on the Bisons.