UBC Thunderbirds defender Katie Zinn, following a 4-1 win over the Regina Cougars on Friday, November 18.

UBC Thunderbirds defender Katie Zinn, following a 4-1 win over the Regina Cougars on Friday, November 18.

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are off to a flying start to the Canada West season. An 11-1-0 record and a ten game winning streak have the Thunderbirds demolishing the competition as they lead the USports rankings and Canada West. It’s been a complete team effort with everyone contributing on and off the ice.

The versatile Katie Zinn has been a massive part of the UBC success. The fifth-year Thunderbird was asked to move to a new position to help out the team on the back-end.

“It’s kind of funny,” said Zinn. “I’ve played forward my entire life and this is my last year of competitive hockey. I’ve decided not to go pro. I’ve decided to switch to D (defense), it’s what the team needed. It’s been challenging, but I really like the change. I’m really embracing the change, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far.”

The current UBC roster has eight natural defenders, but a subsequent rash of injuries has resulted in Zinn patrolling the blue line. Mairead Bast missed Friday’s game against the Regina Cougars, Alexa Ranahan was unavailable the next afternoon, and Kirsten Toth is recovering from a long-term injury. Zinn has adjusted to playing with a range of defensive partners this season.

“I’ve worked with all the D and there’s no-one I really don’t have chemistry with, that I’ve found. Everyone’s really easy to work with and they all help me out, when there’s things I don’t understand. It’s just been really great working with everyone.”

UBC Thunderbirds Assistant Coach, Mike Sommer picked up the 4-1 win over the Cougars on Friday. Having Zinn playing defense allows UBC to add an extra offensive threat on the back-end. A puck moving defender is always a huge asset, and Zinn has been able to transition to her new position smoothly.

“Katie Zinn, she’s been a big part of our back-end, all eight of our players,” revealed Sommer. “We do have some injuries right now as part of the defensive core. Katie Zinn, she brings a great offensive skill-set to her game. Along with that, she competes hard on pucks, which is something I know she’s been wanting to work on. She was good for us today.”

The Coquitlam native, has 1 assist, and 0 penalty minutes in 9 games this season. Her biggest contribution has been on special teams, and helping to shut-down the oppositions top players. Once UBC starts to get some healthy bodies on the blue line, will we see Zinn moving back up to play forward?

“I’m not really sure,” admitted Zinn. “It’s just a wherever they need me kind of thing. I just want to help out where I can, forward or D, I just want to be on the ice.”

While you might think that Zinn models her game after famous forward turned defender, Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks. Her inspiration comes from someone a little closer to home who always made time to teach her the game of hockey, and how to skate backwards.

“Yeah, it was definitely my Dad,” said Zinn. “He was my coach all through my minor hockey career. He played at a really high level, so he’s always been an inspiration for me.”

The Thunderbirds are on the road this weekend as they travel to Calgary to take on Mount Royal University. You can bet that Katie Zinn will be bringing her two-way game as UBC looks to extend a ten game winning streak.

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