Thunderbirds Win First Ever Home Playoff Game

Title: Thunderbirds Win First Ever Home Playoff Game
Date: February 15, 2013
Original Source: UBC Thunderbirds
Synopsis: Post-game story on the Feb. 15 playoff game between UBC women’s hockey and Manitoba.

VANCOUVER – It was a bittersweet night for the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday, as they won the first home playoff game in program history but may have lost their top scorer in the process.

BOX SCORE

The 7-2 victory over the Manitoba Bisons was yet another high-mark in a season full of firsts and franchise records. UBC is now up 1-0 in the best-of-three Canada West quarterfinal series.

However, with a 6-2 lead late in the game, Rebecca Unrau (Humboldt, SK) came across the middle of the neutral zone and was hit with a knee-on-knee check. Maggie Litchfield-Medd was given a five-minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct for the hit, while Unrau took several minutes to leave the ice with the help of team trainers.

Unrau landed hard on her left shoulder and was going for x-rays after the game. Any length of absence would be a tough one for the team, as Unrau led the way with 22 points in the regular season. She also added two goals and an assist on Friday.

“It felt good but bitter at the end there,” said fourth-year forward Dayle Poulin (Prince George, BC), who was playing in her first career playoff game. “Everyone is a little bit quiet after that.”

The late injury overshadowed a dominant performance by the Thunderbirds, who really stepped on the gas late in the first period and didn’t let up from there.

Emily O’Neill (Oakville, ON) opened the scoring in the first, banging home a rebound off the end boards. After Nellie Minshull tied the game, two seniors got the lead back as Kaylee Chanakos (Nanaimo, BC) fed Kaitlin Imai (Coquitlam, BC) in the slot for a one-timer. Unrau would add a third before the period was through, banging in her own rebound during a scramble in front of the Bisons’ net.

The Thunderbirds expanded the lead in the second when Unrau surprised Dee-Ana Marion with a shot from a bad angle. Nicole Saxvik (North Vancouver, BC) followed up quickly with a five-hole goal after Emily Grainger (Sooke, BC) sprung her for a breakaway.

In the third, Chanakos went top-shelf on Leitte Klassen, who had come in to replace Marion to extend the lead to 6-1.

After Manitoba made it 6-2, head coach Graham Thomas took a timeout, more to prepare for tomorrow’s game than anything else. The conference’s second-ranked penalty kill shut the Bisons out in five opportunities but were scrambling a bit later in the game.

“We caught on to some of their power play units,” said Thomas. “We just wanted to settle down and get some practice against what they’re trying to do.”

Tatiana Rafter (Winnipeg, MB) would add a late marker to make it 7-2 on the power play than ensued from the Unrau hit. Grainger and Stephanie Schaupmeyer (Kelowna, BC) also chipped in with three assists in the game, joining Unrau and Chanakos with three points a piece.

Between the pipes, Thomas went with Danielle Dube (Vancouver, BC), who turned away 26 shots. The team has alternated between Dube and Samantha Langford (Pense, SK) for the past few weeks but Thomas was quiet on who would get the start on Saturday.

“It was great to see the girls come out like that,” said Dube. “I’m really proud to see how much this team has matured this year.”

Whether Dube or Langford get the start on Saturday, the Thunderbirds are sure to be fired up given the way Friday’s game ended.

“They’re gonna pull even harder for her if she can’t play,” said Thomas. “They’ll find a way to be stronger and be better and play for her.”

The puck drops at 7 p.m. at Father David Bauer Arena on Saturday and will be broadcast on CiTR Radio and CanadaWest.tv.

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