Down to the wire: Men's hockey win games against MRU, clinch a spot in the playoffs

This weekend, the UBC men’s hockey team narrowly clinched a spot in the playoffs. Coming off of two wins against the University of Regina Cougars last weekend, the team beat the Mount Royal University Cougars twice on the road.

Going into the weekend, the ’Birds held a 10-13-3 record and were seventh in Canada West. They were neck-in-neck with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. Lethbridge was sixth in the conference with an 11-12-3 record. Thanks to the Pronghorns’ two losses to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the ’Birds managed to claim the sixth spot needed to make the playoffs.

Both of UBC’s wins ended 2-1. On Friday, defenceman Joe Carvalho and forward Joe Antilla scored the two goals for the T-Birds. UBC goalkeeper Derek Dun made 24 stops on 25 shots to rout the Cougars.

With their playoff hopes on the line, the ’Birds managed to stand their ground for a second time on Saturday to earn their much-needed win.

The scoring came eight minutes into the first frame by T-Bird Luke Lockhart. A little over five minutes later, UBC’s Michael Stenerson received a roughing penalty, putting the Cougars on the power play.

Mount Royal’s Cam Maclise then took advantage and evened the score, with the assist from Connor Rankin — whose 35 points now put him first in Canada West.

A little over four minutes into the second period, Cougar Matthew Brown received a penalty for tripping. On UBC’s ensuing power play, Antilla lit the lamp for the second time of the weekend to put the ’Birds back in the lead. After a shot by Mount Royal that hit the crossbar, the ’Birds skated the puck back to the attacking zone before Antilla put the biscuit away.

Trailing 2-1, the Cougars fought hard in the third period to equalize the game once again. Their closest opportunity came during an odd-man rush by David Stephens and Zach Henry on a UBC power play. Dun managed to make the glove save on the short-handed attempt, securing the ’Birds' victory.

The game ultimately ended as another big night for the T-Birds' goalkeeper Dun — who stopped 37 of the Cougars’ 38 shots on goal.

UBC’s first playoff game will be on Feb. 17 on the road against the third-seeded University of Calgary Dinos.