T-Birds hosts SFU in first match of inaugural Captains Cup

On Friday, September 15, the battle begins for men’s hockey as they kick of the first game of the inaugural Captains Cup tournament against Simon Fraser University (SFU).

The three-game exhibition tournament will see the men’s hockey programs of UBC, SFU and Trinity Western University face off against each other at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre and Surrey Sport & Leisure Centre on the weekends of September 15 and September 30.

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, which provides over 200 scholarships to student athletes each year.

Currently, the T-Birds team boasts four players who have had WHL experience over the past years, including current ‘Birds captain Wes Vannieuwenhuizen — he is the former captain of the Vancouver Giants.

“The big thing [with the Captains Cup] is to just put university and collegiate hockey on the map in Vancouver. In university sports, your budget goes towards taking care of the players and there’s not a lot of marketing ... so it can be tough to just raise awareness.” said men’s hockey assistant coach Kelvin Cech — who is going into his second season with the men’s program.

UBC last faced SFU in the 2016 pre-season, defeating the Clan 3-1.
UBC last faced SFU in the 2016 pre-season, defeating the Clan 3-1. Courtesy Rich Lam/UBC Athletics

The UBC Thunderbirds have spent months training and preparing for the upcoming game, building their lineup back up after losing several key players to professional teams in the off-season.

“It’s just like any training camp atmosphere,” said Cech.

Unfortunately, Cech noted that the ‘Birds are down one of their prize recruits as Austin Glover, a first-year on the UBC roster, is at the Edmonton Oilers rookie camp. That type of player, as explained by Cech, often shocks fans who are “surprised at the caliber of the hockey” these teams play.

Over the two weekends of play, each team will face each other once; the team with the best record overall will earn bragging rights for the year and get their hands on the Captains Cup.

UBC faces off against SFU at 7 p.m. on Friday at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.