February 24, 2020
EDMONTON – For the first time in 42 years the UBC Thunderbirds have advanced to the Canada West final after earning a 2-1 win over the number one seed Alberta Golden Bears in game three of the semifinal series Sunday night at Clare Drake Arena.
Tyler Sandhu scored the game winner 2:18 into the third period while Rylan Toth had another first star performance in goal making 40 saves as the T-Birds will face the Saskatchewan Huskies for the Canada West banner.
Sunday night’s win over Alberta also clinched a berth at the David Johnston University Cup next month in Halifax.
“In playoffs you need a hot goaltender and you need a group that feels that they can accomplish anything,” said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon shortly after the historic victory. “That’s a deadly combination and that’s what happened here in Edmonton this weekend.”
After the Bears scored early in the opening period, Toth shut the door. The third-year goaltender was marvellous from start to finish, making one of his best saves of the game less than 10 seconds after the opening faceoff when he was forced to make a cross-crease save on an odd-man rush right off the draw.
The Bears outshot UBC by a 15-6 margin in the opening frame but the T-Birds answered back in the second with one of their best all around periods of the entire season. UBC kept Alberta to just five shots while Austin Glover got the visitors on the board with his first of the playoffs with just over five minutes remaining. Jake Kryski carried the puck on the left wing boards into the Bears zone before driving towards the net and finding Glover waiting on the back door to redirect the puck past Matt Berlin.
Sandhu gave the ‘Birds their first lead of the series since the final period of game one with what turned out to be the game winner at the 2:18 mark of the third. Kryski fired a shot from the slot that was blocked but as the Bears were attempting to clear, Sandhu stole the puck and fired it on goal from a sharp angle, fooling Berlin with his first of the post-season.
Alberta pressed for the equalizer the remainder of the period, firing 21 shots on Toth who turned aside each and every one of them. The T-Birds also killed off both third period Alberta power plays.
“What it means to the guys in that room, and our coaches, I can’t even begin to describe it,” said Toth, who is now 4-2 this post-season with a .923 save percentage. “It’s an incredible feeling. I wasn’t too happy with my performance last night. I wanted to get back to how I was playing, be solid, and give the guys a chance.”
“Talk about being in the zone, this guy looked like he was seeing beach balls coming at him and it was one of the greatest goaltending performances I’ve seen in a long time,” said Butenschon who was equally impressed with his team’s overall composure.
“We pushed the tempo and we dictated the play and they were hanging on. To do that against the number one team and to have them chase us and have us make plays against that, it was very impressive.”
The Bears called their timeout with just over two minutes remaining, putting Berlin on the bench for the 6-on-5 advantage.
But just as they’d done all series long, the T-Birds bent but didn’t break, hanging on for their first series win over the Golden Bears in program history.
Next weekend will be UBC’s fifth conference final appearance since their first such series in 1971 where they defeated the Manitoba Bisons in two games to secure their lone championship banner to date.
The best-of-three Canada West championship begins Friday, February 28th at Merlis Belsher Place in Saskatoon.
2019-2020 UBC Thunderbirds Hockey Team Roster
|6||Shaun Dosanjh||D||3||6’2″||200||Arts||Richmond, BC||Portland (WHL)|
|7||Tanner Faith||D||4||6’4″||215||Arts||Wilcox, SK||Moose Jaw (WHL)|
|11||Jarret Tyszka||D||1||6’3″||192||Arts||Langley, BC||Seattle (WHL)|
|13||Kyle Becker||D||5||6’4″||223||Kines.||Langley, BC||Medicine Hat (WHL)|
|26||Joe Carvalho||D||4||5’7″||180||Arts||Burnaby, BC||Prince George (WHL)|
|29||Jerret Smith||D||4||6’2″||212||Bus.||Surrey, BC||Seattle (WHL)|
|32||Anthony Bishop||D||1||6’0″||180||Arts||Kelowna, BC||Tri-City (WHL)|
|40||Jonathan Smart||D||1||6’2″||185||Arts||Kelowna, BC||Penticton (WHL)|
|43||Ryan Pouliot||D||1||6’2″||193||Arts||N Van, BC||Swift Current (WHL)|
|9||Dryden Michaud||F||1||5’10”||161||Arts||Maple Ridge, BC||Melfort (SJHL)|
|10||Matt Revel||F||3||5’11”||185||Arts||Abbotsford, BC||Portland (WHL)|
|14||Jake Kryski||F||1||5’11”||185||Arts||Vancouver, BC||Calgary (WHL)|
|17||Austin Vetterl||F||5||6’0″||182||Bus.||Surrey, BC||Kootenay (WHL)|
|18||James Orban||F||1||5’10”||170||Arts||Calgary, AB||Drayton Valley (AJHL)|
|19||Tyler Sandhu||F||3||5’10”||180||Arts||Richmond, BC||Tri-City (WHL)|
|20||Austin Glover||F||3||6’2″||190||Arts||Saskatoon, SK||Red Deer (WHL)|
|21||Quentin Greenwood||F||2||5’9″||180||Bus.||Delburne, AB||Olds (AJHL)|
|22||Quinn Benjafield||F||1||6’2″||185||Arts||N Van, BC||Edmonton (WHL)|
|25||Colton Kehler||F||2||5’9″||180||Arts||Port Coquitlam, BC||Edmonton (WHL)|
|37||Brett Clayton||F||1||6’4″||225||App Sci||Abbotsford, BC||Regina (WHL)|
|42||Carter Popoff||F||4||5’9″||175||Arts||Richmond, BC||Vancouver (WHL)|
|44||Maxwell James||F||2||6’4″||194||Arts||Pitt Meadows, BC||Tri-City (WHL)|
|RS||Austin Adamson||F||RS||5’11”||198||Arts||Vancouver, BC||Mt. Royal University|
|34||Rylan Toth||Goal||3||6’2″||200||Arts||Saskatoon, SK||Seattle (WHL)|
|39||Ben Maquignaz||Goal||2||6’0″||165||Civil Eng||N Van, BC||Hollyburn Huskies|
|47||Patrick Dea||Goal||2||5’11”||180||Arts||St. Albert, AB||Tri-City (WHL)|