VANCOUVER – Carter Popoff scored twice including the game-winner as the UBC Thunderbirds captured the inaugural Captains Cup with a 3-1 win over the Trinity Western Spartans at Father Bauer Arena Saturday afternoon.
Popoff scored early in the second to get UBC on the board and then doubled the T-Birds lead finishing a two-on-one with Michael Stenerson early in the third to finish the pre-season with three goals in four games.
The Spartans Brayden Brown (Calgary) scored a power play goal to get TWU within one, 2-1, at 7:21 of the third period, but that was as close as the visitors would get. Jacob Mills made a nice feed from behind the net for the only assist.
With UBC facing a surging Spartans squad, Chase Clayton gave the ‘Birds some much needed insurance with a shorthanded goal with less than two minutes remaining.
The Spartans spent the final three minutes of the game on the man advantage, but instead it was Clayton who put the game on ice for UBC with his shorthanded marker.
TWU goalie Silas Matthys (Wollerau, Switzerland) made 38 saves in the loss. UBC’s Matt Hewitt and Rylan Toth split goaltending duties for the win, combining for 14 saves.
The game was a one-goal contest until early in the third when Stenerson stole the puck just outside the TWU blueline and quickly moved into the offensive zone alongside Popoff, who finished off the odd man rush to double the ‘Birds’ lead.
The Spartans finished the Captains Cup with a 1-1 record, having earned a 2-1 victory over Simon Fraser earlier in the tournament.
Head Coach Barret Kropf
“Although we took a loss, I was really happy with our effort. Five-on-five, it was pretty amazing hockey. The pace of the game, the physicality and the display of skill was outstanding. For whatever reason, there were a ton of penalties in the second period and it was really hard to keep the flow of the game going through the middle frame. Coming through that, we saw how well our penalty kill can operate, but at the same time, it’s hard to keep everyone rolling on the bench. Silas had a stellar performance and gave us an opportunity until the end to win the hockey game.
“Also, I just want to say thanks to the Vancouver Giants for hosting with us the Captains Cup and I think it’s a great tradition we want to build upon.”
The Spartans will now prepare for their BCIHL season-opening weekend Oct. 6-7, with TWU playing Victoria Oct. 6 and Vancouver Island Oct. 7.