Going in with a 0-4 record in conference play, the Thunderbirds men’s hockey team was betting on taking both of their games against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. They were able to take Friday’s game with a commanding 5-2 win.
They started the second game strong, storming out to a 3-1 lead at just past the midpoint of the first period. The third goal came in the form of a shorthanded goal by second-year forward Chase Clayton. But the Golden Bears answered less than 20 seconds after with a goal of their own to bring the deficit back to one goal.
The T-Birds held their own for the rest of the period, with their defence stopping a flurry of shots by the Golden Bears. T-Birds goalie Matt Hewitt made an amazing stop with just over a minute left in the first, foiling an Alberta two-on-one by stopping the puck with his left pad at the last second.
The tension between the two teams had most definitely been building throughout the period, with the hits getting more violent and loud as it drew to a close. The ’Birds still had the lead, but they were outshot by the Golden Bears 13-5.
The second period started with the Golden Bears scoring on the first shot on goal, as Alberta tied the game by beating Hewitt with a sharp five-hole shot. The Golden Bears used the momentum from the first goal to propel them to score two more before the 10 minute mark as things really began to fall apart for the T-Birds.
The Thunderbirds tried to mount a comeback in the second half of the period. Their biggest chance came when they went on a power play with just over two minutes left in the second, but they ultimately came up short and were unable to get past Alberta’s defence.
The third period opened with a T-Bird penalty that the Golden Bears quickly took advantage of, scoring to make it 6-3. By the 15 minute mark, the Golden Bears had outshot the Thunderbirds by more than double of a margin, with the total being 31-15 in favour of Alberta.
The T-Birds would take two more penalties, both of which the Golden Bears would capitalize on, bringing the score all the way up to 8-4. After the eighth goal, Hewitt was pulled in favour of former Michigan Wolverine goalie Derek Dun, who would let in one goal before the end of the game.
The T-Birds would score one consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game as they fell 9-4 to Alberta.
The ’Birds will travel to Winnipeg, Manitoba next week to face off against the University of Manitoba Bisons in another two-game series.