Offensive outburst propels Thunderbirds to victory

Cole Wilson MHK

VANCOUVER — Cole Wilson (White Rock, B.C.) led the way with a hat trick as the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team produced its biggest offensive output of the season beating Manitoba 8-6 Sunday afternoon in Winnipeg.

With the victory, the Thunderbirds split the weekend series with the Bisons and improved to 8-9-3 on the season, one point better than Manitoba at 9-11-0. UBC lost 3-1 on Saturday.

Two third-period goals from Wilson proved to be the difference on Sunday. Tied at 5-5 through 40 minutes of play, Wilson potted his second of the day 9:41 into the final frame to put UBC in front 6-5. However, Manitoba had an answer as Jordan DePape scored on the power play to even the game at 6-6 with just under seven minutes remaining in regulation.

Wilson though would respond 51 seconds later scoring his third goal of the afternoon which would prove to be the game winner. Greg Fraser (Nanaimo, B.C.) added an empty netter to give the Thunderbirds the 8-6 win.

A Second-Team Canada West All-Star, Wilson had a tough start to the Canada West season, however, in his last four games he has scored five goals and added two assists. In his first 16 games of the season he had four goals and three assists.

“Offensively we were really good all weekend,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz. “All four lines created quality chances and it was nice to see Cole Wilson get good chances and score on them.”

Just like Saturday night, the Thunderbirds set the tone in the opening period. Jessi Hilton (Sherwood Park, Alta.) scored his third goal of the season just 2:52 into the opening frame to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. Joe Antilla (Madeira Park, B.C.) extended the lead to 2-0 just before the midway point of the period, potting his first goal of the season. Manraj Hayer (Vancouver) scored his second power play goal in as many games to make it 3-0.

The Bisons got on the board with just under four minutes remaining in the period courtesy of Brett Dudar to cut the lead to 3-1. However, just 25 seconds later Wilson responded with his first goal of the afternoon to once again put UBC up by three, 4-1.

Former Vancouver Giants blueliner, Darren Westland would make it a two-goal game before the period was out, beating Matt Hewitt (New Westminster) with just 23 seconds left in the frame. UBC led 4-2.

Deven Dubyk, who has been UBC’s kryptonite this season, was pulled after the first period of play. After giving up just three goals in three previous games versus UBC, he allowed four goals on 14 shots in the first 20 minutes and was replaced by Byron Spriggs.

It took all of 57 seconds for the Bisons to make it a one-goal game. Chad Robinson scored in the first minute of the second period for Manitoba’s third goal of the afternoon. Aaron Lewadniuk completed the comeback exactly six minutes later with his sixth goal of the season to tie the game at 4-4.

With the momentum clearly on their side, the home team would then take its first lead of the afternoon as Robinson scored his second goal of the game and spelling the end of the day for Hewitt. The UBC goaltender was pulled in favour of Eric Williams (Langley) after allowing five goals on 12 shots.

Nate Fleming (St. Albert, Alta.) would not allow the lead to last, he scored the equalizer 1:15 after Robinson’s goal to tie the game at 5-5. That is how things would stand through 40 minutes of play.

Williams earned the victory in net, stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced in relief.

Wilson (3g) and Hayer (1g, 2a) each finished the day with three points. Anthony Bardaro (Delta, B.C.) chipped in with two assists.

“Defensively we had a tough afternoon, but the important thing was playing in a real tight game and coming out with two points,” said Kuntz. “Two of four points isn’t what we came for, but no sense dwelling on it. We need to learn from this and be ready for a real strong Mount Royal hockey club next weekend. “

The Thunderbirds will remain on the road next weekend, playing Friday and Saturday night in Calgary against Mount Royal.