The UBC Thunderbirds were shocked at home by the SFU Clansmen’s hockey team Friday night in the first game of the inaugaral University Classic.
The opening of a home-at-home exhibition series proved to be a stern test for the heavily favoured Thunderbirds. Despite being outshot 43-23, SFU managed a 3-1 upset.
“We were great for six minutes, and then we took a team very lightly,” said UBC head coach Milan Dragicevic. “We didn’t show them any respect and we learned a very valuable lesson tonight.”
The game started with heavy pressure from the Thunderbirds, with a firm hold on possession resulting in a power play goal by Marc Juneau three minutes in. It appeared as though the visitors from the BC Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL)—undefeated in a division with Trinity Western University and Okanagan College—were overmatched.
But by the 7:24 minute mark of the first period, SFU scored their own power play goal from Kyle Leung. The Clansmen would add another marker at 12:35 to take a lead into the first intermission. SFU was decisive in their ability to counterattack and were able to collapse the structure of UBC’s defence. A more defensive approach by UBC in the second period meant preventing counterattacks wasn’t enough to stop SFU from scoring a third goal at the end of the period.
The final period was full of UBC chances, with the Thunderbirds outshooting SFU 19-6. UBC’s power play was solid in terms of pressure but could not finish. A fine performance from SFU goaltender Evan Kurylo held back multiple great chances from Thunderbirds Adam Maglio and Jason Yee.
“Their goalie was great. He made some great saves, some highlight reel saves,” Dragicevic said. “Usually if you get 43 shots, you expect to win a game.”
The final minutes of the third were tense, with great chances by UBC’s Scott Wasden, who hit the post, and Michael Wilgosh. A scuffle that ended in a pileup on goal resulted in a double minor to SFU and only a single minor to UBC. With the goalie pulled, UBC had a 6-on-4 advantage in the game’s final minutes. T-Bird Wyatt Hamilton managed a decent chance but he was denied by Kurylo.
This series—the only games between UBC and SFU after the majority of the Clan’s teams moved to the NCAA—is a mid-season exhibition home-at-home series meant to prepare the Thunderbirds for the University of Regina next weekend. The second game is in Burnaby on Saturday.
“We’ve got to be a lot hungrier in front of the net. We need second shots, third shots, we need to get a little greasier in front of the net, I think that’s a good lesson that we learned tonight,” said Dragicevic. “If we play like this in the Canada West, we’re not going to survive, and I think our guys realize that.”
SFU-UBC in pictures