Thursday night was the annual preseason showcase between the UBC and SFU men’s hockey teams. With a Shrum Bowl unlikely this year, it was a rare occasion to see sports teams from the province’s two biggest universities go head to head. While the first period was a tight, gritty affair, the doors blew wide open in the second, as the Clan surrendered five goals on route to a 6–0 defeat. It was the exact same score that the Clan lost to the Thunderbirds last time out.
The scoreline was not that flattering, and head coach Mark Coletta knows that there has to be improvements before the team starts its regular season in the BCIHL in a month’s team.
“I think [we have to improve] the mental part of the game. Being aware of situations, making sure we know when to go and not to go [on attack], and being better prepared to play in either a defensive posture or an offensive one. UBC is a very skilled team, tons of WHL experience, so you have to recognize they’re good. We should have played a more containment [style], and we didn’t do that.”
Indeed the Thunderbirds came into this game with eight new recruits, all of which had some sort of experience in the WHL. While an SFU win would be considered a huge upset, it looked somewhat possible to start the game. UBC missed a number of great chances, as Jordan Liem made a few great saves to keep it scoreless. SFU had a long five on three midway through the first, but weren’t able to capitalize; a huge wasted opportunity. The period was a very physical one, and had a large scrum in the corner near the end.
Perhaps the highlight of the first was the student contingent from UBC who were determined to try and get in the heads of the SFU hockey players and coaching staff. “It’s fun,” said head coach Coletta. “We been experiencing that the last couple years playing the NCAA teams over in Boston and Ohio. We love that, and I think the players embrace that. It’s better than playing in front of an empty building.”
The second period is where it all fell apart for the team. The speed of the game was “a little higher than what we were use to,” said forward Mike Sandor, and it showed. Two quick goals by UBC seemed to suck the life out of the team, the second goal a backhand right along the ice that snuck behind Liem. He was pulled after that, and in came Lyndon Stanwood. He didn’t fare any better, letting in three goals. The third period had a number of chances for SFU to break the shutout bid, the closest coming when the puck just squeaked past the post. UBC scored one more to make the final score 6–0.
“We should have played a more containment [style], and we didn’t do that.”
The team isn’t letting a large defeat get morale down for what should be another run at the BCIHL title. “We’re taking all positives from this,” said Sandor after the game; “It’s good to get this kind of matchup to start us off. It’s a good measurement to see [what] we have with the new guys in here, and see where we measure up to them, because obviously there’s a little bit of a rivalry.”
UBC seemed to be playing at a different gear for parts of the game, keeping SFU pinned in their own zone at even strength for extended periods of time. “The biggest difference is their puck movement.” explained Sandor. “Their transition game is a lot better than our regular competition, and I think especially with the first game of the year, a lot of the new guys aren’t use to our style of play. So this is just completely different to what they’re use to.”
“You clear the mechanism, and go back to work,” explained head coach Coletta. “We’ve got to get used to playing at the pace we played at tonight, even in our own league.”