Thunderbirds take on upstart Cougars in weekend clash

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Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds Men’s Hockey team are in for another road trip this weekend as they take on No. 9 Mount Royal University Cougars in Calgary, Alberta. The puck drops at 6:00 PM PT both Friday and Saturday evenings at Flames Community Arena in Calgary.

The Cougars and Thunderbirds split their previous weekend series back in October, with UBC earning three of a possible four points. They won in regulation 5-3 and lost in overtime the following day 3-2. Currently, the Thunderbirds sit in fifth place in the Canada West standings with a record of 8-9-3. They are tied in points with fourth-place Saskatchewan, however the Huskies have one more win and therefore sit one spot higher in the standings. UBC is coming off a weekend split with Manitoba, losing 3-1 Saturday night, but exploding for eight goals the following day in an 8-6 victory.

Mount Royal has easily been the biggest surprise of the 2014-15 season thus far. Playing in just its third year of CIS hockey, the Cougars are in second place in the Canada West with a record of 14-6-0. They come into the weekend on a four game winning streak, including back to back wins over Regina last weekend to open the 2015 calendar year. First-year head coach Bert Gilling has done an outstanding job with the Cougars, who have given up just 47 goals through the first 20 games of the season.

Offensively UBC will be relying on the top line of Cole Wilson, Anthony Bardaro, and Manraj Hayer. The trio was put together prior to the final series before the holiday break and over the last four games have combined for 21 points (9g, 12a). Hayer leads the way with three goals and five assists during that span, Wilson has five goals and two assists, while Bardaro has chipped in with a goal and five assists.

For the Cougars, Cody Cartier and Tyler Fiddler are the go to offensive guns. Cartier is third in the league in scoring with 11 goals and 20 assists, while Fiddler sits in fourth with eight goals and 18 assists. In goal Cam Lanigan has started the last six games for the Cougars, giving up just 11 goals over the span and winning five of the six games.

Expect the Thunderbirds to go with Eric Williams in goal to start the weekend. He replaced Matt Hewitt last Sunday to earn the victory over Manitoba. The first-year netminder is 4-5-1 this season with a 2.42 goals against average and a save percentage of .920%.

With eight games remaining in the Canada West regular season schedule, UBC’s goal of hosting the opening round of the playoffs is still sight. Big wins down the stretch will set them up for success come playoff time and that starts with a tough test this weekend versus Mount Royal.

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