KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat and UNBC Timberwolves men’s sides played the second leg of their weekend doubleheader Sunday afternoon at Nonis Field, playing to their second consecutive scoreless draw. It was the sixth consecutive clean sheet, and seventh on the season, for UBCO standout keeper Mitch McCaw, making it 609 minutes of game time without a goal against him.
The Heat were in gear off the opening kick, controlling the pace in the early stages and holding the ball in their offensive end consistently for the first few minutes. Despite a few excellent chances for the Timberwolves, and a few would-be chances called offside, the Heat had all the momentum in the opening 45 and were far more effective at putting on net and challenging UNBC keeper Tyrone Venhola. Shots were 9-4 for the home side in the first.
The second half saw much more aggressive play from both sides, as three of the match’s four yellow cards were handed out after the 60th minute. Desperation to find the net for the first time this weekend had both teams working that much harder to win the ball, resulting in a number of broken plays and offsides calls. Though nine saves were made by the keepers in the Thanksgiving Sunday contest, just two came after half time, and nothing got past McCaw or Venhola before the ref’s whistle signalled the end of play.
Heat keeper Mitch McCaw took another step towards cementing his name on the list of all-time great Canada West netminders, with his sixth straight shutout performance. His seven shutouts this season are just one off the all-time Canada West season conference record, currently held by Alberta keeper Connor James who set it last season with eight clean sheets.
With four games left for the Heat, McCaw stands a good chance of taking over that record, and with Alberta having a bye week this weekend, he also stands a good chance of finishing even with or ahead of James, who had six after last weekend.
McCaw also currently sits at or near the top of a number of conference stats categories. His save percentage (.898) is the best in Canada West, he is second in goals against average (0.50) and goals against (5), and has made the fourth-most saves this season (44).
Shots & Saves
19 shots were recorded on Sunday afternoon, with 11 for the home side Heat and eight for the visiting Timberwolves. The first half saw 13 shots, and there were six in the second, with nine total shots on goal throughout the match.
All nine of those shots on goal were turned away in the Sunday matchup between UBCO and UNBC, with three saves by Mitch McCaw and six by Tyrone Venhola. McCaw had the more spectacular of the match’s saves, making an impressive stop on each of his three.
Just past the 11 minute mark, McCaw got his hands on a strong shot, before falling on it just before the goal line to keep the ball out of his net. He also had a pair of impressive diving saves in the second half, leaping to his left in the 48th minute to punch away a Timberwolves header and to his right in the 55th to knock away a driving shot from UNBC’s Jonah Smith.
A scoreless draw both days the searching for a goal increased the tension in the Sunday rematch. On Saturday there was a total of 23 fouls and zero cards, on Sunday, as the lack of a goal mounted the pressure on both sides there were four cards handed out – all yellow – and 26 fouls. Two yellows apiece to either side and just one came in the first half.
With the consecutive draws the Heat still sit in second place in the Canada West Pacific Division by the narrowest of margins in winning percentage (.567 – .564) over Trinity Western The UBC Thunderbirds lost this weekend but still hold onto first place with a .667 winning percentage.. With two weekends left to play the conferences’ standings have really tightened up. Top four teams from each division make the post season with the top two teams hosting their quarter-final match.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (5-3-3) will be on the road to the coast next weekend. On Friday, October 13 they will be in Victoria to take on the Vikes (4-6-1) at 7:15 p.m. PDT, and on Saturday, October 14 they’ll be in Vancouver to face off against the UBC Thunderbirds (7-3-1) at 6:30 p.m. PDT.
The UNBC Timberwolves (4-5-5) will head home to Prince George for next weekend, hosting a pair of games against the UFV Cascades (3-6-2) on Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14. Kick off is set for 7: p.m. PDT both nights.
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information