Jeff Sargeant, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The hottest team in the Canada West kept on rolling Saturday afternoon as the UBC Thunderbirds (14-9-1) earned a 3-1 win over the No. 3 Saskatchewan Huskies (18-5-1) at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
The ‘Birds have now won six in a row and seven of their last eight while handing the Huskies back-to-back losses for the first time this season while Rylan Toth made 27 saves for his first Canada West win.
Tied at one after two periods, the T-Birds found themselves on their fifth power play of the game early in the third. After Matt Revel won an offensive zone faceoff, Tyler Sandhu worked a give-and-go with Jerret Smith who blasted his third of the season for what turned out to be the game winner.
The Huskies pressured for the equalizer and despite two power plays in the second half of the final frame they couldn’t get another past Toth who was tremendous between the pipes.
With Huskies netminder Jordon Cooke off for the extra attacker, Michael Stenerson banked the puck out of the UBC zone for Chase Clayton who found the empty net with three seconds left to put the game on ice, sealing the weekend sweep.
The ‘Birds finished the game 1-for-8 on the power play while UBC’s penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5.
After falling down 4-0 before getting on the board Friday night, Saskatchewan opened scoring in Saturday’s rematch at the 8:05 mark when MacKenzie Johnston pounced on a rebound for his second of the season. Josh Roach and Logan McVeigh picked up the assists.
The ‘Birds responded with a ferocious start to the second period. While UBC was unable to score on a power play that carried over from the end of the first, they kept momentum on their side culminating in Riley Guenther’s third of the season. Kyle Becker made a centering feed to Guenther to tie the game one two and a half minutes in. Nick Buonassisi got the second assist to extend his current point streak to five games.
Stenerson’s assist on Clayton’s empty netter gives the fourth-year forward a five game point streak as well.
The ‘Birds remain one point behind the Manitoba Bisons for third in the Canada West and have opened up a five-point lead over Mount Royal for the fourth and final home playoff berth.
UBC heads to Calgary next weekend to face the Mount Royal Cougars in the T-Birds’ final regular season road trip. The Huskies stay on the road with a doubleheader matchup against the first-place Alberta Golden Bears.