'Birds smash Spartans for Winter Classic victory

The UBC men’s hockey team defeated the Spartans 5–1 in front of a full crowd for Winter Classic on Friday night.

Both teams came out with aggressive play, putting their bodies to work as boards rattled with checks and hard hits. The T-Birds spent most of the time in their offensive zone, forcing TWU to play close man-to-man defence to keep the game scoreless.

Time in the Spartans’ zone finally paid off in the 12th minute, as forward Jake Lee shot the puck past TWU goalie Leon Sommer after receiving a close pass from Tian Rask behind the net. TWU looked to even the score after Conner McDonald drew an interference penalty, but were held off on the powerplay and the rest of the period.

The Spartans quickly tied it up though. Just 24 seconds into the second period, Daine Dubois’s shot went bar down and past T-Bird goaltender Cole Schwebius.

The ‘Birds spent more time in the offensive zone and had a multitude of scoring chances. Two shots that appeared to go in were recalled by the referees, much to the dismay of the crowd.

But the Thunderbirds managed to capitalize on a Spartan interference penalty. Liam Kindree let a wrist shot go from the circle and the crowd erupted in cheers when it hit the back of the net.

Cyle McNabb and Ty Thorpe celebrate a goal.
Cyle McNabb and Ty Thorpe celebrate a goal. Nathan Bawaan / The Ubyssey

Back with the lead, the ‘Birds refused to let up. They continued their offensive pressure and it paid off again, four minutes later. Beautiful passing and footwork from Tian Rask and Cyle McNabb set Ty Thorpe up right in front of the net to give the ‘Birds a 3–1 advantage going into the third.

Both teams came out less physical in the first few minutes of the last period, but UBC still wasn’t letting up offensively.

Four minutes in, Jake Kryski’s pass was intercepted in the Spartan zone but Lee skated up and snagged the puck before it crossed the blue line. He brought it to the circle and fired a shot that flew past Sommer for the top corner to increase the ‘Birds’ lead to 4–1.

“It feels unreal. Electric atmosphere — these are the type of games you dream of playing well in,” said Lee about his two-goal performance.

Crazy P rallied the crowd all night.
Crazy P rallied the crowd all night. Nathan Bawaan / The Ubyssey

Two minutes later, Thorpe stole the puck away in the T-Birds' zone, bringing it to the other end with Jonny Lambos. Lambos passed to Jonathan Smart in the slot, who fired a wrist shot for another Thunderbird goal.

The Spartans started to play scrappier, starting brawls multiple times to try to get underneath the T-Birds’ skin. With the crowd egging on fights, it seemed to work a little bit as nine penalties were handed out after Smart’s goal. But with two game misconducts for the Spartans, it didn’t work in their favour and UBC held onto their lead to win their ninth consecutive game.

“The line of Thorpe, McNabb and Rask was probably our best line today,” said head coach Sven Butenschon. The line was on the ice for four of the five goals scored. “They all feed off each other.”

The ‘Birds have a bye-week and return to finish the rest of their season on February 2, where they hope to continue their winning ways for the coveted Canada West Championship.

“We're all ready to go down the stretch here,” said Lee. “This is our year.”

“This is our year," said Lee.
“This is our year," said Lee. Nathan Bawaan / The Ubyssey