Vetterl nets four for 'Birds, team settles for split season-opening series against Bisons

Heading to Winnipeg for their first outing of the 2017 season, UBC's men's hockey team ended their road trip in humbling fashion — facing a tough 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Manitoba Bisons.

In Saturday’s match up, the T-Birds came out with a 6-4 victory over the Bisons, a strong start to their Canada West season. They would have hoped to carry that momentum over to Sunday's matinee, but did not succeed.

Despite a strong outing from third-year forward Austin Vetterl — who notched two goals in the first frame of Sunday's game— the 'Birds would ultimately give up three unanswered goals, falling to the Bisons 3-2 and splitting the weekend series.

Sunday’s game started in much the same way as their Saturday victory — a slow start out of the gate for the ’Birds. The Bisons dominated in puck control through the early stages of the first period, at one point finding themselves up 8-1 in shots though stuck at zero on the scoreboard.

As frustrations grew for the Bisons they began to find themselves in penalty trouble and the 'Birds were quick to capitalize.

As a 5-on-3 power play for the ‘Birds expired, a scramble in front of the Bisons’ net resulted in a pass finding its way to Vetterl’s stick. The UBC forward patiently fired the puck past sprawling Manitoba goaltender Byron Spriggs to put UBC on the scoreboard in the 15th minute of play.

Matt Revel was among five Thunderbirds to notch a goal on the road trip.
Matt Revel was among five Thunderbirds to notch a goal on the road trip. File Jeremy Johnson-Silvers

The team would quickly add to their lead with another power play marker with just over a minute remaining in the first. A point shot from defenceman Jerrett Smith would find itself redirected in the slot off the stick of Vetterl for his second of the game, padding UBC’s lead into the first intermission.

After what started as a tough first period for the 'Birds, the opposition’s lack of discipline had the team up a pair going into the second period. The Bisons, however, would return from their locker-room a different team.

Manitoba would end up holding UBC to just five shots in the second frame, resuming the dominant play that they had opened the game with. The Bisons would finally find the net on a power play as the result of an interference call against 'Birds defenceman Riley Guenther in the late stages of the period. After some effective puck cycling from the power play unit, Bison forward Kamerin Nault would find the net from a sharp angle, cutting the goal deficit in half.

The Bisons would tie the game up in the third on a two-on-one odd-man rush, putting the game back at even. They would add another power play tally at the 12th minute mark of the third period, off the stick of Brett Stovin, for their first lead of the game — his goal would ultimately be the game winner.

Returning home next weekend, the Thunderbirds will find themselves in a battle of .500 Canada West teams as they take on the University of Calgary Dinos. The double-header opens this Friday at 7 p.m. at Father David Bauer arena.