Feb 8, 2014
By Tim Huebsch (Sports Information Assistant)
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team kept their playoff aspirations alive with a crucial victory over the No. 10 Saskatchewan Huskies by a 5-1 margin Saturday night.
unleashed a three-point night including a pair of goals while Cole Wilson
added to his team lead in points collecting a goal and two assists as the Thunderbirds snapped the Huskies five-game winning streak.
The victory moves UBC to within two points of the final playoff spot in the Canada West with two games remaining on the schedule.
Derek Hulak scored the lone goal for the visitors.
“We talked about playing games that matter and tonight we gave ourselves that opportunity going into next weekend,” added UBC head coach Milan Dragicevic
after Saturday’s win.
“We’re getting confidence in our power play and tonight we were good at getting pucks on net and were effective in the neutral zone eliminating turnovers and getting pucks behind their defense.”
The first period was scoreless as UBC’s Steven Stanford
was solid in the opening frame stopping all 13 shots he faced while Ryan Holfeld equaled his counterpart turning away all eight shots fired his way.The second period couldn’t have started any worse for the home team as the Saskatchewan Huskies got on the board a mere 10 seconds into the frame.
Jesse Ross found Hulak with a cross-ice pass out front and he made no mistake converting his 11th goal of the campaign and 43 points on the year, one shy of his career best. Matthew Delahey collected the secondary assist on the play.
The Thunderbirds would erase the deficit just past the midway point of the second period as Greg Fraser
potted his sixth goal of the year firing one from the slot that beat Holfeld.The ‘Birds would rid themselves of their early second period woes as Wudrick gave the Thunderbirds its first lead of the game just nine seconds into the team’s first man-advantage.
Wudrick’s third of the year extends his current point streak to six games with eight points during that span. Brad Hoban
and captain Ben Schmidt
got onto the score sheet with assists on the play.Wudrick would get under the skin of the Huskies again in the third as the former NHL third-round draft pick potted his second of the night, and fourth of the year on the man-advantage. Wudrick found himself open at the side of the net and banged one home past Holfeld to give his team a two-goal cushion.The home team would continue its dominant play in the third adding two more in the latter stages courtesy Wilson and Joe Antilla
Wilson fired a wrister from the faceoff circle on an odd-man rush fooling Holfeld before Antilla potted one into an open net after taking a cross-ice feed from Nick Buonassisi.
With his three-point night, Wilson now has 33 points on the season giving him sole possession of third place in the Canada West scoring race.
At the end of the night, 11 Thunderbirds got onto the score sheet, a testament to the secondary scoring displayed Saturday night. Stanford provided the Thunderbirds with some superb goaltending stopping all but one in a 38-save victory earning him the game’s first star. At the other end, Holfeld stopped 19 shots and took the loss Saturday.
“Stanford was great tonight, he gave us the opportunity to win for the entire 60 minutes, he was calm and was composed, he was like a vacuum in net,” praised Dragicevic in regards to his goaltender’s play.
UBC (10-14-2) honoured two graduating players, Ilan Cumberbirch and Matt Wray, tonight. Though currently out with a concussion, Cumberbirch played three seasons appearing in 46 regular season games after transferring from the University of Saskatchewan. Wray suited up for the Thunderbirds in 34 games during his four-year tenure with the blue and gold.
The Thunderbirds are back in action next weekend against the Manitoba Bisons for the team’s final weekend series of the regular season.
UBC is on the hunt to catch the Regina Cougars, who currently occupy the final playoff spot in the Canada West but with a pair of wins next weekend and a Cougars’ regulation loss, the Thunderbirds would prevail. UBC holds the tiebreaker between the two having won the season series against Regina.
Thanks to a weekend sweep at the hands of the Alberta Golden Bears, the Regina Cougars sit just two points ahead of the Thunderbirds. The Cougars are in tough against the third-place Saskatchewan Huskies (15-10-1) for a deciding weekend series next week.