UBC stands alone in first after weekend sweep over Pandas – University of
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds completed the weekend sweep over the Alberta Pandas with a 2-1 victory at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre Saturday afternoon. UBC won the special teams battle, shutting down the Pandas’ top ranked power play on all four of their attempts while the T-Birds scored twice on four chances of their own.
“It’s just a lot of blocking shots, getting in lanes, a lot of hard work,” said UBC head coach Graham Thomas. “The (penalty kill) is doing a really good job and obviously the goaltending helps, it was a full-team effort on the PK tonight.”
UBC’s (11-1-2) power play markers came from Cassidy Rhodes and Hannah Koroll – both against a Pandas penalty kill that was ranked first in the conference heading into Saturday afternoon’s contest.
“We were able to kind of settle it down, keep it simple and find ways to get those shots through,” added Thomas. “We did that tonight and got a couple of big goals on the power play.”
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Koroll sure knows when to put the puck in the net, the fourth-year defenceman now has three goals this season – all of them game winners. Koroll’s point shot broke a 1-1 deadlock just before the midway point of the third period, and the T-Birds were able to close out the game from there. UBC’s previous three games were decided in overtime, so securing a regulation win was a focus for the club, especially against the third place Pandas.
“We wanted to stick to the process but we knew what was on the line, we only see (Alberta) one weekend so to have that tiebreaker is important,” said Thomas.
Alberta (9-4-1) goaltender Halle Oswald proved to be a tough test for UBC this weekend. The fourth-year keeper stopped 61 of the 66 shots she faced in the two game series and even earned some style points. Second-year T-Bird Madisyn Wiebe was robbed twice as Oswald had not one, but two highlight reel saves on the UBC forward.
Standout rookie Cassidy Rhodes provided the screen, and the secondary assist on the game-winner. Rhodes also potted the game’s first goal giving her 10 points (8G, 2A) this season.
Almost halfway through the 28-game season, UBC is a perfect 7-0 on home ice, and the T-Birds have secured at least a point in 12-straight games. The T-Birds now have sole possession of first place in the Canada West standings, but the second place Mount Royal Cougars (11-2-1) trail by a point, and are UBC’s next opponent.
“Definitely proud of the group, but we’ve still got long way to go. (Christmas) Break is coming up but we can’t look past these next four games. It’s good to be where we are right now but for us it’s (about) building and continuing to build.”