Vancouver, BC – A rematch of last season’s Canada West semi-final lived up to the billing Friday night when the Saskatchewan Huskies (6-2-0-1) finally broke a deadlock midway through the third period en route to a 2-0 win over the defending Canada West champion UBC Thunderbirds (6-3-0-0) at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Both goaltenders were stellar between the pipes carrying a scoreless tie well into the final period before Kaitlin Willoughby scored her fourth of the season on a shorthanded breakaway for what proved to be the game winner.
The Thunderbirds had their share of power play chances throughout the game but couldn’t beat Jessica Vance who made 32 saves for her first win as a Husky.
“For the first couple periods I thought we played a well-executed game,” said UBC head coach Graham Thomas following the frustrating loss. “I thought we were moving the puck well, I thought we were forechecking hard and then we just seemed to run out of gas. We make some mental mistakes and fell off the game plan and they capitalized.”
Tory Micklash made 26 saves and was equally impressive in the T-Birds’ net. The second-year goaltender stopped Willoughby on two previous shorthanded breakaways and was on the bench for the extra attacker when Saskatchewan’s Chloe Smith found the empty net for her first Canada West goal with 44 seconds left on the clock.
The ‘Birds finished the game 0-for-5 on the power play while the Huskies didn’t have a single chance on the man advantage.
“Getting one goal in the last two games is not acceptable,” added Thomas. “We have to find ways to create more offence by using each other, but on the chances we did get we got to capitalize and bury it.”
With the win the Huskies leapfrog UBC into first place in the conference by a single point.
The ‘Birds will have a chance to take their lead back in Saturday’s rematch. Puck drop at Doug Mitchell is 2:00 p.m. PT.