VANCOUVER – The 2022 Canada West regular season wraps up this weekend at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Center as the UBC Thunderbirds take on the Regina Cougars on Friday, February 18.and at 7:00 p.m. (PT) and Saturday, February 19and at 3:00 p.m. (PT).
Saturday’s match will have added significance for the program as Jenna Fletcher, Shay Lee McConnell, Emily Mooreand Kenzie Robinson will be celebrated as the ‘Birds for Senior’ graduation party. “It’s always bittersweet, we have four very good seniors this year,” said UBC head coach Graham Thomas. “It’s going to be emotional, but we’ve put ourselves in the position that it won’t be their last game at home, so get out there and enjoy it. We have to honor them by fighting hard and giving our best.”
Significant playoff implications are in play between UBC (13-5) and Regina (7-9-2), who are fighting for two different reasons. The T-Birds are looking to get around the first round with two wins this weekend, which would secure second place and the opportunity to host a home semi-final. While the Cougars currently hold the sixth and final spot in the playoffs, with Calgary two points behind.
“We want to be in situations like this, where we are in control of our own destiny,” Thomas said. “Obviously we would have liked to be in the front row, but we really have confidence in our group and are looking forward to this weekend.”
The T-Birds picked up four important points at Langley last weekend starting Friday with a 4-1 win over the Trinity Western Spartans. Mackenzie Kordic led the way in the opener by scoring UBC’s first two goals, followed by the insurance of Grace Elliot and Kenzie Robinson.
Saturday’s rematch started a little differently as the ‘Birds finished the first period 2-1. Flying out of the break, UBC scored five consecutive power-play goals in the second to take a resounding 6-2 lead going into the final break. The Spartans at home started the third with an early goal and went close with a few more before Ireland Perrott sealed the 7-5 victory for UBC.
Regina was able to take some much-needed rest after winning a critical four-point weekend on February 4and and 5and against the visiting Manitoba Bison. The Cougars picked up a critical 5-2 win Friday night and followed it up with a hard-fought 3-2 win the following day.
The Cougars enter the final stretch of the regular season playing aggressive hockey, understanding that every point counts in their push to qualify for the playoffs. “They’re playing really good hockey right now,” Thomas said. “They come in hungry and fighting for a playoff spot, but we’re fighting for position, so the intensity is going to be high. It’s always a good streak with Regina, they’re a good all-around team, so we We’re going to have to focus on our game and play on our identity.”
As the regular season draws to a close for the ‘Birds, Thomas mentioned he wants his team to seize the opportunities his team worked so hard to win, “We want to embrace the pressure situations. It’s more fun to play in high games. We’ve got a meaningful weekend here that will prepare us for the playoffs, it’s a privilege and an opportunity.”
UBC’s offense buried a league-leading 65 goals this season, largely due to three players who find themselves in the top five scoring leaders. Chanreet Bassi (7G, 13A), Rylind MacKinnon (9 G, 10 A) and Perrott (8 G, 10 A) led the charge, but the team’s depth is really demonstrated by the nine ‘Birds who hit the double-digit points mark.
Tickets to Thunderbirds games this year are free, but you just have to book in advance here.
The matches will be broadcast live on Canada West TV presented by Co-op.