After dropping their last game to the Calgary Dinos, the Thunderbirds (8-9-1) were looking to come back with a spirited effort against the Regina Cougars (3-13-2) this past weekend. They did just that — sinking the Cougars 3-1 in their first match-up on Friday night.
Through a scoreless first period, both teams looked to exert their physicality and generate chances off of their respective rushes.
Regina winger Cody Fowlie was a noticeable presence in the first frame as he leaned into Thunderbird Matt Revel on the forecheck, sending the UBC forward crashing to the ice early in the period.
For the T-Birds, defenseman Devan Fafard would take the game’s first minor penalty with six and a half minutes remaining in the first. The Thunderbirds would kill the penalty off, taking away passing lanes and limiting the opposition’s time and space. A couple minutes later, UBC would take another minor penalty and UBC goalie Matt Hewitt had to be on his game to help his team close out the first period knotted at 0-0.
The first goal came with 3:12 remaining in the second period off the stick of T-Birds leading scorer Austin Vetterl. Walking in from the half wall, a quick shot through heavy traffic led to a rebound chance from the side. Vetterl made no mistake and jammed home his 10th goal of the season.
Into the final frame, the winning goal was scored by veteran Adam Rossignol with seven minutes remaining in the third: a short-side snipe over the right shoulder of Regina goaltender Dawson MacAuley.
A couple of minutes later, Regina’s Colton Sparrow closed the gap to a one-goal deficit, scoring the Cougars’ first goal of the match-up. Walking out in front, he took a nice behind-the-back feed from Tyson Predinchuk and wired it past the blocker of UBC goalie Matt Hewitt. It was too little, too late though, and with barely a second left on the clock, Austin Vetterl sank his 11th of the season into the empty net to solidify a T-Birds 3-1 win.
Matt Hewitt looked strong in the team’s ninth win of the season. His athleticism was exemplified in his tracking of the puck, poise under pressure and lateral movement — he gave the opposition very little to shoot at. He finished the evening with 27 saves on 28 shots, while the opposition’s Dawson McAuley made 25 saves on 28 shots. Beyond the goal crease, Riley Guenther was one of the most noticeable players for the Thunderbirds with his aggressiveness and awareness on the penalty and in-transition.