Hockey skates to Canada West Finals in 3-2 win

The women’s hockey team made history on Sunday night. 

After surviving two back-to-back elimination games, the ’Birds held on to a 3-2 victory against the University of Regina Cougars to bring the Canada West Final series to home ice next Friday. 

The ’Birds opened scoring at the sixth minute right after a save from Danielle Dube. T-Bird Rebecca Unrau weaved her way up the rink after winning a face-off on the Thunderbird side and slapped the puck past Cougars goalie Toni Ross’ shoulder.

The insurance goal followed at the 13th minute in the last 30 seconds of a T-Bird power play.  The goal was by T-Bird Haneet Parhar, who flipped home a rebound while on her knees. Nicole Saxvik and Stephanie Schaupmeyer grabbed assists for the effort. 

While the second period remained uneventful, Dube and Ross were pretty much even in their number of saves. Dube was standing tall and saving well, having come off an injury from two weeks ago that had sent her off the ice in a stretcher. 

UBC’s third goal was at the beginning of the third period. T-bird Kathleen Cahoon managed to snag the rebound off of a double attempt by Rebecca Unrau and Logan Boyd, and managed to chip the puck over Ross’ leg and slide it over the goal line. 

It wasn’t long before the Cougars finally started to catch up. At the 12th minute during a Cougars power play, T-Bird Celine Tardif lost her stick and attempted to continue playing without it, which ended up with a penalty for roughing being called on her. In the confusion, Cougars managed to fire a shot past Dube to make the score 3-1.

Despite their endeavours, Regina was unable to capitalize on any more opportunities and even their second goal of the afternoon — scored at the last second of a 5-on-3 power play — wasn’t enough to prevent victory for the ’Birds. The game ended with a 3-2 win for the ’Birds.

Bench boss Graham Thomas was extremely happy with the result. 

“I’m just so proud of these girls,” said Thomas. “They’re so resilient and they pulled through. This team responds under a little pressure and adrenaline!”

The ’Birds will be facing off against the University of Manitoba Bisons for the Canada West League Finals and for the first time, they will be hosting at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. 

There is a little bit of a rivalry between the Bisons and the ’Birds. Not only were they the team who beat out the ’Birds in last year’s playoffs, but they were also the team who snapped the ’Birds winning streak in this year’s regular season. It was also the match against them that sent Dube to the hospital with an injury.

“They’re a good team, but we’re ready for the rematch.” said Thomas. “We have to keep our emotions in control and battle hard.”

UBC will be playing the Manitoba Bisons this Friday at 7 p.m. at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.