VANCOUVER, B.C – The Vancouver Canucks will skate onto the ice at The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre for a special open practice with the UBC women’s and men’s hockey teams on Saturday, November 12. The joint practice between the Canucks and UBC hockey programs has long been in the works and the Thunderbirds couldn’t be more excited to welcome an NHL team to UBC.
The Thunderbird women are the number one ranked team in Canada for the third consecutive week. Coach Graham Thomas has his team buying in and that’s translated to an eight game winning streak and a 9-1-0 overall record. Forward, Hannah Clayton Carroll, leads Canada West with three game winning goals, and she can’t wait to be on the same ice as with the team she grew up supporting.
“When we heard the news from the coaches, it was pretty cool, unbelievable news to hear. I’m pretty excited to go on the ice with some of the Canucks. I’ve always grown up with them, always watching them.”
West Vancouver, native Haneet Parhar, has been a life long Canucks fan, her family has always cheered for the Canucks and backed them no matter what. The fifth year Thunderbird is still in shock and taking in the news. It’s a rare opportunity for university athletes to share the ice with NHL players that they’ve followed every Saturday night with friends and family.
“I’m looking forward to meeting all of them,” said Parhar. “It’s just a surreal opportunity just to talk to them. It’s just a cool experience. It’s someone you’ve watched on TV for so many years, it’s kind of cool, oh…. they’re right in front me.”
Like many of her UBC teammates, Nicole Saxvik is also climbing the Canada West scoring charts. The North Vancouver, native is tied for second in league scoring with 3 goals and 8 assists in 10 games. Saxvik is also a massive Canucks fan. Her all-time favourite Vancouver Canucks player was part of the famous ‘West Coast Express’ line.
“I’m actually really excited,” admitted Saxvik. “It’s going to be a really cool experience, something we have never experienced before here at UBC. Growing up in North Vancouver and being a long time Canucks fan, I think it’s going to be a real cool experience. I have followed the Canucks throughout my career, definitely (Markus) Naslund is my kind of player growing up.”
This will be the Canucks first full practice in Vancouver since embarking on a six-game road trip at the beginning of November. Currently the team isn’t having the best start to the season with a 5-8-1 overall record. A 1-8-1 record in the last ten games has left Canucks fans in an upsetting foul mood. However, the Thunderbirds aren’t bothered by the road woes and are delighted to have a visit from the Canucks.
Coach Willie Desjardins will have his team participate in a full practice followed by a shootout featuring six players from the Canucks and both UBC hockey teams. The Thunderbirds will have an ace up their sleeve with a sharpshooting shootout specialist known for shinning during big moments.
Haneet Parhar’s forehand backhand deke helped UBC win a dramatic eight round shootout over Guelph University at last years CIS National tournament. While Hannah Clayton-Carroll is looking forward to possible testing her speed in a fastest skater competition, she knows who she wants in the shootout.
“Yeah, I think Par (Parhar) for sure has the breakaway.”
Will Parhar and Canucks forward, Alex Burrows, both surprise the goalkeepers with a forehand, backhand deke?
“Honestly, I’m just trying it the net,” said Parhar.
Saturday is bound to be a terrific for the Canucks and UBC hockey. This will be a lifetime memory for the UBC Thunderbirds. During the long grind of a season, you need fun events to bring everyone together to remember the joys of hockey.