Disappointment on home ice: T-Birds tripped up by Dinos in season's first home stand

After splitting last weekend’s road series with the University of Manitoba Bisons, UBC men’s hockey team looked to capitalize on their first home-ice advantage of the season this past weekend.

But it was to little avail — the team suffered two losses at the hands of the visitors, 6-1 and 7-0 respectively.

Despite a strong start on Friday night at Father David Bauer Arena, the team was outmuscled and outworked, giving up six on the night and ultimately dropping their home-opener.

The ’Birds came out of the gate with a definite sense of urgency. After two slow starts in their games last weekend, it was clear that they hoped to get things moving early. However, the tight and conservative Dinos team was quick to suppress any pressure.

The Dinos would strike first as forward Luke Harrison banged home a rebound past UBC’s starting goalie Matt Hewitt early in the opening period. The goal would come after sustained pressure from Calgary, as the T-Birds struggled to break out of their own end. Throughout the night, the Dinos would win most of the puck battles at the blue-line, hemming UBC into their defensive zone.

UBC would respond quickly though. After a scramble in the Dinos’ crease just 56 seconds later, rookie Thunderbirds forward Tyler Sandhu put home his first goal in the blue and gold.

Once the score was tied, the Dinos seemed to dictate the play for much of the rest of the game. Losing puck battles in the corners, on the wall, in the neutral zone and at every line, the ’Birds struggled to keep the puck out of their zone and had difficulty generating sustained attacks.

The Dinos would recapture the lead at the 13:56 mark of the first on the power play.

The Dinos get a shot away after finding a path through the 'Birds defence.
The Dinos get a shot away after finding a path through the 'Birds defence. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

Though the initial setback on the goal was evident, one of the few highlights for UBC throughout the game was their penalty kill — they would successfully kill off seven of eight short-handed situations they faced.

The Dinos would score four more through the rest of the game – three even-strength and one shorthanded.

Throughout the matchup, UBC’s focus seemed to be on a simpler, smarter and more patient game as a result of the conservative and structured approach to UoC’s play. Perhaps a product of home-opener jitters, the Thunderbirds were unable execute on this plan. They failed to get pucks deep and weren’t able to win the battles that they needed to, resulting in a heavy loss at home.

“Once it started to slide on us we couldn’t contain our composure,” said UBC Head Coach Sven Butenschon following the loss. “If it’s your home opener, you start to get away from your comfort zone and you start to try a little too hard … and then you get out of position and then you try to do things yourself instead of doing the things that make you successful.”

The ’Birds would drop the second of their back-to-back on Saturday afternoon, as they were blanked by the Dinos 7-0. The team falls to 1-3 on the season and finds themselves at the bottom of the Canada West’s standings through the second weekend of game play.