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The UBC Thunderbirds on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are back in action tonight as they visit the Saskatchewan Huskies. The 5-2-1 Thunderbirds will be looking to bounce back after a pair of home losses to the Alberta Pandas before last weekends bye week. This will be UBC’s second road trip of the season, and so far they’re 2-0-0 away from home.

The Huskies are 6-2-0 on the season and 2-1-0 at brand new Merlis Belsher Place. UBC (4th) trails Saskatchewan (3rd) by one-point in the Canada West standings. Although it’s early in the season, this weekend provides an opportunity for UBC to leapfrog the Huskies.

“We’ve got to come in there with that will, that want to win, and then our skill will take over,” UBC Thunderbirds Coach Graham Thomas explained. “That’s the thing we’ve got to learn from the Alberta weekend. We’ve got to play hard. They’re going to play hard, fast, quick, well coached, and structured. We need to come in playing smart, but also playing fast, and playing hungry.”

There will be more than just learning the nuances of a new rink for UBC. The Huskies ended the Thunderbirds playoff run a season ago with a sweep in the Canada West semifinals. Captain Celine Tardif and her teammates will want a different result.

“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Tardif said. “It’s going to be a big weekend for us. We have a little bit of something to prove after last year. It’s getting us going. It’s just keeping it simple, back to the basics. Just ready to be out there, and being fast.”

The best way to hush a rival is to go into their brand new rink and come away with two wins. It’s always important to take the home crowd out of a game when you’re on the road. An early goal would definitely help UBC set the tone. Rivalries are born in the playoffs, and UBC will be extra motivated, but they can’t let that be a distraction.

“We’ve got to use that as some fuel coming into the weekend,” Thomas said of the rivalry. “We’ve also got to stay focused, and disciplined. We can’t be getting too emotional, and to wound up for the weekend. Definitely there’s going to be a little bit of that there anytime a team ends your season. There’s always a little bit of pit left in the stomach. That’ll just have to be used into healthy energy, and the will to win.”

In her 5th season with the Thunderbirds, Tardif has 2 goals and 2 assists in 8 games She’s tied for second in scoring among Canada West defenders. Tardif will be hoping to add to that total against a team UBC struggled to score against last season.

“It’s a game, not everything goes your way all the time. We’re just looking for a fresh start this year, and to prove that we’re still a good program, and we still have a lot to give.”

You can always count on a tight low scoring competitive game when UBC and Saskatchewan play each other. This time however, the UBC Thunderbirds will be ready to get out of the green dog house.

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