Women’s Hockey – Mid-Season Report

Title: Women’s Hockey – Mid-Season Report
Date: December 12, 2012
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: This article was a mid-season review feature on the UBC women’s ice hockey team.

A successful first half hasn’t satiated the competitive hunger inside the UBC Thunderbirds. Quite the contrary, actually. Instead, the Thunderbirds are ready to build on their first half success and get even better as they push for a playoff spot.At 7-6-3, the Thunderbirds have had their best half-season in program history. They sit fourth in the tightly-packed Canada West conference, sitting just three points out of third but also just four points up on last place. It will make for an exciting but stressful second half, with each of their 12 games being critical.

UBC’s best ever record in Canada West play is 8-15-1, which the program accomplished in back to back seasons (2008-09 & 2009-10).

The improvements over last season have been stark and drastic. After all, this team finished in last place in 2011-12 with a 1-21-2 record.

“To a player, everyone has improved since last year,” said head coach Graham Thomas, who is in his first year on the job. “I’m really happy with our first half.”

But for the Thunderbirds, simply riding out the season isn’t an option. Instead, the winning has made for a more competitive team and one with an even greater desire to win. The taste of victory is the best motivator, it seems.

“We always want to be better. We knocked down some barriers and did some things that haven’t done in a while. We’ve won some tough road games,” said Thomas. “Most importantly, we’re really starting to change the culture.”

The culture Thomas refers to is one of a program with far more losses than wins and one that struggled to get a foothold in the standings in the past. This year, though, leaders have been brought in and leaders have stepped up, helping to solidify the team’s mission.

“From early on this team has bought in,” said Thomas. “Everyone gets along really well, they like spending time together and there’s good leadership in the veteran group. Everybody’s on the same page and they’ve worked really hard.”

Strong team performance tends to beget strong individual accomplishments, as well, and it’s made for some successful first halves for the ‘Birds. Rebecca Unrau (Humboldt, SK), for example, is ninth in the conference in scoring with 14 points, followed closely by Kaitlin Imai (Coquitlam, BC) with 12. Nicole Saxvik (North Vancouver, BC) is fifth among rookies with seven points, too, not to mention the stabilizing presence of rookie Danielle Dube (Vancouver, BC), who has the conference’s best save percentage at .944 and the third best’s goals against average at 1.69.

But those individual accomplishments are only possible within the framework of a strong team. And nobody is focused on those numbers when there’s a greater goal at hand. The schedule is daunting over the next two months, and the team is starting to get healthy at the right time.

“Nobody is walking around thinking the hard work is over,” said Thomas. “There’s a big challenge in front of us in the second half and were looking forward to it.”

The Thunderbirds start their second half on Jan. 4 and 5 at the University of Calgary.


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