Thunderbirds open 2015 on the road against Manitoba

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Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds begin a busy month of January this weekend with a pair of games in Winnipeg against the University of Manitoba. The Thunderbirds will play 10 games over the next five weekends to finish off the 2014-15 Canada West regular season.

This year’s schedule is condensed because the Canada West will represent Canada at the FISU games in Spain in February. As a result, the regular season will finish the final weekend of January, then there will be a three week break with players competing in Spain, and the playoffs will start the weekend of February 20.

UBC (7-8-3) currently sits in fifth place in the Canada West through the first 18 games of the season. They are tied in points (17) with fourth-place Saskatchewan, but the Huskies have one more win. Manitoba (8-10-0) is just one point back of UBC in sixth place with 16 points. The Bisons are just three points ahead of seventh place Regina.

The Bisons defeated UBC in the first two meetings of the season November 21-22 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbirds Sports Centre. Manitoba goaltender Deven Dubyk was the difference making 33 saves in a 2-1 win Friday night and 27 saves the following night in a 3-1 Bisons victory. Dubyk has started 16 of 18 games in net this season for Manitoba.

The month of January will make or break the Thunderbirds season. They face Manitoba, Mount Royal, Saskatchewan, Regina, and Lethbridge over the next five weekends. UBC is a combined 4-4-2 versus those teams this season. However, if they hope to host an opening round series come playoff time, UBC will have to get it done on the road. Six of their final 10 games will be played away from home. So far this season UBC is 2-4-2 on the road.

The ‘Birds are looking to build off a win over Calgary to finish the 2014 calendar year, a victory that snapped the Thunderbirds five game losing skid. Meanwhile the Bisons are coming off a weekend sweep at the hands of Alberta.

Puck drop on Saturday, January 3 is 4:00 pm PST and then 11:00 am PST on Sunday in the Manitoba capital.

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