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Thunderbirds lose their first home game with weekend split
Over the weekend the UBC men’s hockey team took to the ice for the first time in 2022. After weeks of practice without contests, they split their weekend series with the visiting University of Calgary Dinos.
On Friday night, the Thunderbirds took to the ice in front of 843 fans who were starved for hockey. UBC’s Rylan Toth and Calgary’s Carl Stankowski were excellent in the first period, keeping the game scoreless. The two goaltenders shared the crease for the Seattle Thunderbirds during the 2016/17 season, a year in which the team won its first WHL championship.
Early in the second period, with the T-Birds on the powerplay, defenceman Conner McDonald lifted the puck through traffic and over the Dino’s netminder to give UBC the 1–0 lead. The goal would count as the first of McDonald’s Canada West career, as well as the game winner. Toth took control for the remainder of the game, shutting down all Calgary opportunities and bailing out an adventurous UBC defense.
Chris Douglas and Austin Glover each added an empty net goal in the final minute, and the T-Birds walked away with a 3–0 victory. In the win, UBC’s Toth tied a Canada West record with his third shutout in a row, and fourth of the season, stopping all 36 Calgary shots.
Heading into Saturday’s rematch, the T-Birds were flying high. The team sat alone atop the league’s standings and were winners of five in row. However, a seemingly purposeless start from the T-Birds resulted in Calgary forward Jake Gricius putting his team up 1–0 in the opening minute of the game.
The Dinos added another goal in the first period to go up 2-0. In the early moments of the second frame, rookie UBC defenseman Matt Leduc was the victim of an unfortunate hard hit to the numbers behind the T-Bird’s net. After a few scary minutes, Leduc was able to skate off the ice on his own accord, but he would not return to the game.
First-year Calgary winger Josh Maser was thrown out of the game for the hit, and UBC was handed a five-minute powerplay. Though they couldn’t find the back of the net with the man advantage, UBC was able to find a spark soon after.
Lead by team captain Tyler Sandhu’s two goals, the T-Birds scored four unanswered to take a 4–2 lead into the third period. The lead was short-lived however, as the final frame would see a massive momentum shift due to a hardworking Calgary team. The Dinos scored five straight goals in the final 20 minutes to earn the weekend split with a 7–4 win.
“You’re not going go through a season without facing adversity ... and just because we won some games before Christmas doesn’t mean anything,” said UBC head coach Sven Butenschön.
The T-Birds currently sit tied for first in the Canada West with the University of Alberta, with a record of 11–2–1. Next weekend, the team will fly to Saskatchewan to take on the University of Regina Cougars.
Men’s Basketball extends their win streaks to 13 games
Men's basketball extended their win streak to 13 games after weekend sweep against the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack, which puts them a perfect 9–0 record so far this season.
On Friday, the T-Birds showcased a dominant victory in front of the home crowds. The War Memorial Gym was filled with excitement — ending the game with a 72–44 victory.
Fourth-year Sukhman Sandhu snagged a team-high 25 points with 12 rebounds, is quite a comeback after his seven-week absence from the game due to his injury.
"Having him back in our lineup is special," said UBC head coach Kevin Hanson. "There's not a lot of size like him with that ability and mobility. He can shoot the three and come inside to finish at the rim. He alters a bunch of shots as well on the defensive end."
The next day was, yet again, another victory for the T-Birds with a 78–63 win.
Sandhu was close to a double-double — with 13 points and 9 rebounds. Grant Audu finished the game with six-for-eight from beyond the arc and a game-high 24 points, while he had five points with nine rebounds the day before.
The T-Birds have a bye week and they will resume their season on the road against the University of Victory Vikes on February 4.
"It gives us a chance to refocus. Schedule-wise, there's still a lot to be decided about the next couple months so we're focussing on getting better and better each week."
Another weekend sweep from women’s basketball
Women's basketball closed off the weekend with a T-Birds sweep against the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
The T-Birds dominantly started off the weekend with a 80–45 victory. First-year Emily Martindale had a team-high 20 points and second-year Hailey Counsell with 15 points and five steals.
In addition to the weekend sweep, the T-Birds dedicated Saturday's game to the Canadian Cancer Society with U Sports Shoot for Cure to support the breast cancer fundraising initiative.
The T-Birds shot 49 per cent from the field and concluded with twelves threes at the War Memorial Gym – another victory with 94–54 – which puts them 5–7 so far in the Canada West season.
Counsell collected a team-high 22 points while third-year Kate Johnson added with 12 points, 4 steals and 4 assists.
"First thing I looked from the stats sheet was our points in the paint," said UBC head coach Erin McAleenan.
"Yesterday I though we left a lot of opportunities out on the court, and today we were 56 [per cent] in paint which was so much better inside ... I still think our overall defence, whether it was in man or sone was super active and helped set the tone," said McAleenan.
In the second half, the T-Birds extended their 30 points lead after third-year Madison Legault's layup, which resulted 80–37 lead into the fourth quarter.
Although TRU's Karishma Rai tried to comeback with a three in the fourth quarter, T-Bird Ryann Kristmanson dropped a triple and secured a second consecutive win for T-Birds.
The T-Birds will enjoy their bye week and they will be off on the road to play against the University of Victoria Vikes on February 4.
These game recaps refer to the games January 21 and 22.