Calgary, AB – Joe Antilla played hero Saturday night, scoring with 2:15 left in regulation to give the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team a 3-2 win over the Mount Royal University Cougars. With the victory, the Thunderbirds swept the weekend series over the ninth ranked team in the nation to extend its winning streak to three games. A victory that should give the team a boost of confidence heading down the stretch.
“I think our team has always had a lot of confidence, but winning three of our last four games on the road against two very tough opponents shows us that we have the ability to succeed when we play the right way,” said UBC head coach Tyler Kuntz.
Leading 2-1 heading into the final frame, the Thunderbirds found themselves on their heels at times with the Cougars playing very aggressive. Eventually the home side would be rewarded as Zack Henry beat Eric Williams to even the score at 2-2 with just over eight minutes remaining. After killing off a Greg Fraser penalty, the ‘Birds went on the attack themselves. Antilla buried a nice pass in front of the net for his second goal of the season and more importantly the game-winning goal. 3-2 was the final.
“Joe has played really solid since the last game before the break and hats off to him for scoring the winner,” said Kuntz. “He boasts great character and is a solid team guy. Fortunately for us he wasn’t the only guy to step up this weekend. Everyone played real hard and helped us earn a crucial four points.”
With the win UBC improves to 10-9-3. The Thunderbirds now have 23 points on the season and sit in fourth place in the conference with six games remaining in the regular season schedule.
UBC dominated the first period of play as they would net two of their three goals of the night, ending the first period leading 2-0. Jason Yee capitalized off a scramble in front of the net securing UBC’s first goal of the night, just 8:41 into play. Anthony Bardaro and Cole Wilson would pick up assists on the goal. With just 1:30 remaining in the opening frame Wilson would be in front of the net to bang in a rebound giving UBC a 2-0 lead going into the second. Neil Manning and Manraj Hayer earned the assists.
Mount Royal still had a lot of fight left as they scored the only marker of the second period off the stick of Brett Zarazun less than two minutes into the period. Williams gloved it down, but the puck managed to just sneak past him. The Cougars outshot UBC 24-16 through two periods of play but would remain one goal down after 40 minutes, 2-1.
Anthony Bardaro and Manraj Hayer both extended their point streaks Saturday night. Bardaro now has a point in each of his last seven games (2 goals and 7 assists), while Hayer has points in his last six games (4 goals and 6 assists).
Wilson, who plays on a line with Bardaro and Hayer, finished with a goal and an assist giving him six goals and three assists over his last six games.
Williams, making his second straight start, finished the night with 34 saves for his sixth win of the season. Dalyn Flette suffered the loss in net for the Cougars stopping 20 of 23 shots he faced.
UBC will return home next weekend to host the Saskatchewan Huskies. Puck drop is 7 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evening at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.