Friday night was a welcome back event for many people but for the UBC women’s hockey team it was a chance to break the ice with the new season in their annual face-off against the Pacific Steelers.
In the first period the 'Birds had a tight handle on their opponents. Strong defense on both ends kept the first period scoreless, despite the Steelers' numerous attempts to break away.
In the last three minutes of the period the 'Birds were able to get on the board after shoving the puck past the Steeler goaltender to net their first goal of the night.
The Birds kept up their energy for most of the second period. Despite some missed opportunities to add an insurance goal in the first few minutes, they managed to hold onto their 1-0 lead and continued to one-up their opponents.
As the final period rolled around the Birds looked unstoppable. Goalie Samantha Langford kept the Steelers' shots at bay, and sheer luck kept a loose puck from finding its way into the net during a scrambly moment in the seventh minute.
The 'Birds then found their insurance goal halfway through the final period as Haneet Parhar fired a shot from teammates after being fed from Katie Zinn and Celine Tardif right between the Steelers' goalies legs and into the back of the net.
However, the Steelers soon found a point after a penalty call had the Birds on a 4-on-1 power play when a shot was fired just past Langford’s shoulder to make the score 2-1.
Despite multiple attempts and multiple chances, the 'Birds were unable to increase their lead and 2-1 was the final score of the evening. This marks the UBC's first win of the 2015-16 season.
Bench boss Graham Thomas was happy with the outcome, but he has bigger things in mind for the team.
“Right now we’re just actually excited to show off how prepared we are and all we did in the summer,” Thomas said. “We’ve had a bit of a chip on our shoulder, a little bit of unfinished business on our plate.”
This year the team deals with the loss of some of their star players, such as alums Tatiana Rafter and Sarah Casorso, who have continued playing hockey in professional leagues. Rafter, who was the first Thunderbird to be named Canada West player of the year, and who holds the Thunderbird record for most points in a game and in a season, recently signed on with the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League. Casorso, on the other hand, is headed to Europe to play for the EHV Sabres in Vienna, Austria.
“There are lots of holes to fill,” said Thomas. “We miss them, [but] we’ve got enough skill and depth that we’ll recover.”