Now 3-0-1 this season, the ’Birds will return home to UBC to play their final two weekend doubleheaders against both the Dinos and the Vikes before embarking on what’s sure to be another long playoff run.
The cloudy sky that afternoon would soon reflect the blood, sweat and tears left on the softball diamond.
Despite the win, the ’Birds found themselves with a mountain to climb early. Two minutes into the game, Ed Ilnicki ran for the Bears’ first touchdown to put Alberta ahead.
UBC’s collaboration on the court successfully suppressed the opponent’s attack, widening the gap set by set before finally taking down the WolfPack 25-15 to seal their fate.
The tournament, presented in conjunction with the Vancouver Giants, is designed to both promote intercollegiate hockey in the Lower Mainland and showcase the Western Hockey League (WHL) scholarship program.
Despite the win, head coach Blake Nill felt that the team still has room for improvement in the games ahead. “We’ve got to be more consistent offensively, finishing when we’re in the end zone. That’s something that’s plagued us for a season now."
Sunday proved a more difficult match-up for the ’Birds, as the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack capitalized on a consistent weakness in UBC’s defence: defending the counter-attack and through balls.
UBC starting quarterback O’Connor — who averaged 324.8 passing yards per game last year — racked up an uncharacteristic 155 yards during the game. The ’Birds also had 23 penalties for a total loss of 210 yards.
A season opener usually means a new beginning and an opportunity to test out a new team — a mix of seasoned veterans and energetic rookies. But the team failed to hit the right pace early and lost the match.
This year, the ’Birds will be seeing the return of prominent players like Michael O’Connor and Marcus Davis. Joining them will be a squad of new recruits to bolster the existing talent on all areas of the field.
Photo coverage from the men's soccer home opener against University of the Fraser Valley on August 25, 2017. UBC won 1-0. The Jumpstart program brought incoming first-years to see the game as the Thunderbirds opened their season.
“It’s still early days and this group has got a lot of work [to do],” said head coach Mike Mosher. “We feel as we grow as a team, we will start to score more goals, so it’s nice to have fun that first weekend with a couple of clean sheets.”
We had no idea what we were in for, but we continued to train even more than before — I headed out on the water two, sometimes three, times a day. Our dragon boat practices began to have a state of urgency: there was no more dilly-dallying.
“What we want to be spearheading … is trying to set up a collegiate league for triathlon in western Canada or potentially here [on] the west coast, even including some of the US schools,” said Heinkel.
“There’s financial factors, but the primary reason is we want to grow and expand our product,” said Nill. “By going into a location [that is] not experienced with university football, it helps us showcase the product.”
Looking out on Lindeman Lake feels as though your eyes have been veiled by an Instagram filter. Similar to Joffre Lakes, the water is turquoise; be warned, though, as the water is glacial. My partner nearly went into shock from jumping in.
These researchers, however important their work is to the advancement of sport, don’t usually take credit for their role in an athlete’s success and prefer to avoid the limelight. James Brotherhood is one of these sports scientists.
Canada sent a total of 84 athletes to Budapest, Hungary, for the competition, and walked away with seven medals. They picked up two more bronze medals in relay events, due in large part to two T-Birds stars: Yuri Kisil and Markus Thormeyer.
“All these things [Passaglia] is doing behind this campaign to jumpstart it and getting people aware is the most important thing because the more lives you can save, the better,” said Katsantonis. “It’s helped me become more aware.”