UBC Thunderbirds vs Team Denmark on Tuesday night at UBC. (December 18th, 2018)

Story & Photos by Alex Rodgerson

Tyler Sandhu had three points and Rylan Toth made twenty-seven saves as the UBC Thunderbirds earned a 4-0 shutout victory over the Danish national junior team on Tuesday night at UBC. Despite outshooting the Thunderbirds 23-6 through fourty minutes Denmark would be foiled by the goaltending of UBC’s Rylan Toth, who would earn the shutout fresh off of his NHL emergency backup assignment on Saturday night.

Toth would be under fire for the majority of the games’ first two periods as Denmark would control the pace of play with their high-possession style, however the Saskatchewan native would hold the fort long enough for the T-Birds to come alive in the third. After Michael Stenerson would break the deadlock on a five-on-three advantage midway through the final frame the Thunderbirds would go on to score three more times in the period, on route to the shutout victory.

Denmark goaltender William Rorth looks on ahead of Tuesday night's exhibition.
Denmark goaltender William Rorth looks on ahead of Tuesday night’s exhibition.

In preparation of the upcoming World Juniors’ tournament, Team Denmark goaltenders’ William Rorth and Albert Adamsen would both see action for the Danes, with Adamsen taking over midway through the second period and surrendering all four goals in the third.

The Thunderbirds would get off to a good start on Tuesday night, moving their feet and creating a strong forecheck early in the first period. UBC’s Riley Guenther would get the games first quality scoring chance in the opening minutes, collecting a loose puck in the slot and sending it just wide of the near post. The Thunderbirds would come out of the gates looking to take an early physical edge against the Danes, who would counter a hard UBC forecheck with their elusiveness and speed.

As the period would continue Team Denmark would use their agility off the rush to start to get pucks towards UBC goalie Rylan Toth, working up a 13-3 advantage in shots nearing the halfway mark of the period. Victoria Royals’ forward Philip Schultz would look good in the opening frame for Denmark, generating two scoring chances and coming within inches of putting Denmark ahead.

Denmark's Andreas Grundtvig gets a good look on UBC goalie Rylan Toth.
Denmark’s Andreas Grundtvig gets a good look on UBC goalie Rylan Toth.

Despite good neutral zone pressure UBC would have a difficult time containing the skilled, high-possession game of Team Denmark throughout the period as the Danes would extend their lead in shots to 16-3. Rylan Toth would keep his team in the game with several key saves in the first, doing a great job of cutting down the angles against Denmark’s forwards while fending off a dangerous Danish powerplay late in the frame.

UBC’s penalty kill would go back to work to start the second period as the Danes would pick up right where they left off to end the first. Denmark would continue to work the puck into dangerous areas using some creative zone entries, which would allow them to rack up the shots on UBC goalie Rylan Toth.

Meanwhile at the other end of the rink, Denmark goaltender William Rorth would begin collecting cobwebs after only facing three shots at the games half way mark, and would give way to his teammate Albert Adamsen who would take over between the pipes. The Thunderbirds would begin to mount some pressure nearing the end of the second, but would be unable to sustain any prolonged time on attack against a very defensively responsible Danish squad. Despite using their speed to create quick transition rushes up ice, Denmark’s forwards would also be equally as efficient defensively, constantly coming back to clog up their own zone and help out their defence.

Danish head coach Olaf Eller talks things over with his team.
Danish head coach Olaf Eller talks things over with his team.

The period would come to a close with neither team able to find the back of the net while still deadlocked at zeroes. Denmark would continue to throw everything at Rylan Toth but would be unable to solve the Saskatchewan-born goaltender through fourty minutes.

The Thunderbirds would start the final frame on the powerplay, looking to break the deadlock with their first man advantage. Things would get worse for Denmark as Lasse Mortensen would then head to the box for hooking UBC’s leading-scorer Tyler Sandhu, giving the Thunderbirds a five-on-three advantage. On the two man advantage former Tri-City American Maxwell James would do some great work in front of the net, digging the puck free in the crease before Austin Vetterl would ring one off the iron.

Moments later however, Michael Stenerson, a Surrey-born forward with seven points in ten games this season, would take a pass from Tyler Sandhu at the right circle and roof the puck passed Albert Adamsen. Despite being outshot 25-8 the T-Birds would lead Denmark 1-0 nearing the halfway mark of the period looking to stage the upset. Stenerson’s third period tally would energize the T-Birds and frustrate the Danes, as UBC would continue to pressure Denmark at even strength looking for an insurance marker. This would lead to Thunderbirds’ captain Jerrett Smith jumping into the play and putting a quick shot through Adamsen just minutes after Stenerson’s opened the scoring.

UBC captain Jerret Smith scored midway trough the third period to put his team up 2-0.
UBC captain Jerret Smith scored midway trough the third period to put his team up 2-0.

Up by a pair late in the game the Thunderbirds would continue to press, adding two more goals and cruising to a 4-0 victory over the Danish national junior team.

Despite Team Denmark’s creative, dedicated 200-foot style of game, the Danes had a very difficult time capitalizing on their opportunities against UBC on Tuesday night. For the Thunderbirds Rylan Toth was on his game all night, however Denmark would fail to do themselves any favours by getting barely any traffic in front of him.

Denmark captain Jonas Rondbjerg and 6'5 defenceman Malte Setkov.
Denmark captain Jonas Rondbjerg and 6’5 defenceman Malte Setkov.

Denmark’s forward group is a very talented one, one that buys in to their defensive responsibilities as much as offensive. However, they will need to develop more edge to their game if they are to compete on the World’s stage. On Tuesday night UBC was able to generate a lot of momentum with their relentless finishing of checks, wearing down the Danes throughout the game until eventually they found their chance to strike. The Thunderbirds failed to draw a single powerplay opportunity in the first fourty minutes, simply due to the speed of Denmark.

For the T-Birds they now arrive at their holiday break, while for Denmark preparations continue for the 2019 World Juniors when the Danes take on Finland on Wednesday night in Langley.

The Danes and Thunderbirds shake hands after a hard fought game at UBC.
The Danes and Thunderbirds shake hands after a hard fought game at UBC.

ISN Scouting Report

Team Denmark #10 – Jonathan Brinkman Andersen

Andersen is the youngest player on Team Denmark and arguably their most skilled forward. Combining great speed and puck handling ability, Andersen has tremendous hands in tight and will definitely be on the radar of NHL scouts come spring. Like most offensive young players, the seventeen-year-old will need to work on his strength and defensive awareness.

UBC Thunderbirds #34 – Rylan Toth

I’ve watched Toth play before, but his game has really undergone a lot of maturation in his second year with the T-Birds. Toth doesn’t get rattled between the pipes, and does a fantastic job of tracking pucks through screens. Despite having the rink tilted in his direction for the majority of the night, Toth would do what all goalies are supposed to: keep his team in it. Really strong reflexes glove high and blocker high, and doesn’t get beat by shots near the ear.