UBC Thunderbirds forward Haneet Parhar displaying the Silver Medal that UBC won at CIS Nationals.

UBC Thunderbirds Haneet Parhar displaying the Silver Medal that UBC won at CIS Nationals.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds have had a remarkable 2015/2016 season that saw them win Canada West and earn a trip to the CIS National Championship in Calgary earlier this month. UBC defeated the Guelph Gryphons 2-1 in an eight round shootout that was ended with a goal from Haneet Parhar. The gold medal game against the Montreal Carabins would not have a story book ending as Montreal hoisted the Golden Path Trophy after a 8-0 victory over the UBC Thunderbirds.

The accomplishments the Thunderbirds were able to achieve this year include winning the first CIS hockey medal for the University of British Colombia since 1963. That includes both men’s and women’s hockey in an astonishing 53 year gap.

Haneet Parhar scored that shootout winning goal after sitting on the bench until a tap on the shoulder from Coach Graham Thomas. The fourth year forward describes a world of emotions as she skated in and went to her favourite move, a backhand deke.

“It’s funny because I really didn’t think I’d be a shooter thinking that it’d be over in three or at least by eight rounds”, said Parhar. “I had so much confidence in (Kathleen) Cahoon, and (Rebecca) Unrau, Nicole (Saxvik) and all the shooters before me. I didn’t realize that it would go for so long. When Graham (Thomas) looked at me said you’re going and he told me the move to do. I really didn’t have too much stress because being the eighth shooter, it’s almost okay if I miss. Graham told me exactly what to do, and he had so much confidence in me looking to shoot and score. I really didn’t think anything about it. It was just close my eyes and do the move I usually do.”

In the final against the Montreal Carabins, things didn’t quite go UBC’s way. Montreal was clinical on the power play with an effective rate of 100 percent. Two quick early goals had UBC behind early and they could never recover. You could almost sense that the Thunderbirds emptied the tank vs Guelph and Montreal was just too strong and skilful on the day.

The West Vancouver native has an idea of what went wrong for the Canada West Champions.

“We really need to focus on defense and shutting down their offense,” revealed Parhar. “I think we struggled with their offensive ability, they’re a great team. I commend them for their offensive ability. Their power play was working at 100 percent, that was the key issue with the Carabins and going down two goals so early in the game. We’re an energetic team, so it was a little discouraging to see right off the bat, but they’re a high-powered offense.”

Captain Stephanie Schaupmeyer has a difference of thoughts and puts the loss down to Montreal’s big game experience. Montreal has previously played in more CIS Nationals games than UBC. To say that UBC didn’t have anything left to offer isn’t true.

“No, I don’t think that was it. I don’t think we got out played,” said Schaupmeyer. “They’re a skilled team and you’ve got to give them credit, they came out hard. I think they’ve been in that situation a lot more than us and I think experience came into play a little bit there. We’re gaining experience as we go, so I can guarantee this program will be back there one day.”

The exposure that UBC has gained this season has been immense. To win Canada West, qualify for CIS Nationals, win a silver medal and to have games televised on Rogers Sportsnet across Canada. That’s a big list of accomplishments only few CIS teams can dream of. Putting UBC on the map in terms of a women’s hockey power house will provide much more deserved attention for the university. It also never hurts to take a bit of the centre stage away from Ontario and Quebec as Haneet Parhar explains.

“I think the best part about that weekend is what we’ve accomplished this month. We’ve really drawn attention to how strong the Canada West program is. We’ve really exposed what we can do and what we’re capable of over out in the west, compared to Ontario and Quebec. They usually get all the spotlight and attention. It’s really good that we’ve done well. I think it’s really important of us to breakthrough. This entire year, No Canada West team came even close to the top five (ranking) so it’s really big for our program and Canada West.”

Kelowna, B.C. native, Schaupmeyer echoed those same sentiments.

“Oh it’s going to help it so much. This was huge for the program here at UBC and just for Canada West. It’s great to get that recognition and we were really proud to be there representing our conference.”

Team UBC will look to don these jerseys next season and continue the success.

The UBC Thunderbirds will look to don these jerseys next season and continue with success.

Overall the season, playoffs, and nationals have been a massive success for the UBC Thunderbirds. All the credit and accolades should obviously go to the players, but the coaching staff can’t be forgotten. Coach Graham Thomas, Assistants Dom DiRocco and Mike Sommer have helped turn around the program. Players have remarked that this is the best team they’ve ever played on from top to bottom. Heading into the 2016/2017 season, UBC will be looking to start off on another journey to CIS Nationals.

“You know, it was a great season”, said Schaupmeyer. “A tough loss at the end there, but we made our season go as long as we possibly could. There’s nothing to be disappointed about, we’re really proud of everything we’ve done. We’ve made history at more than one point this season and that’s huge for us.”

Parhar and Schaupmeyer are both expected to return next season as is the entire coaching staff. The biggest offseason question mark is in net. Goalkeepers Danielle Dube, Samantha Langford, and Laura Taylor are all set to graduate. Knowing Coach Graham Thomas, he is sure to have an ace up his sleeve as UBC prepares for a busy offseason period.

The UBC Thunderbirds shootout specialist summed up what a great campaign it’s been for UBC

“Everything really came together this year for our team. I feel like a lot of players had to step up into new roles this year. We had a some big holes in our team after a few superstars left. I feel as if our team really had to come together to really help each other. It’s a team effort and we found that we really got better as team throughout the year.”

Notes: Team UBC / Team B.C. took on the Czech Republic in an exhibition game on Thursday, March 24 as the Czech’s prepare for the IIHF World Hockey Championships in Kamloops, B.C. – Team Czech Republic beat Team B.C. 4-3.

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