VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are lighting up Canada West competition thanks to an impressive 15-1 record and a fourteen game winning streak. UBC has rippled the net with a high regularity of goals, and defended with astute defensive structure, and excellent goaltending. UBC is scoring an average of 3.75 goals per game, and have allowed the fewest goals, 25 this season. The Thunderbirds have scored 60 goals with the power play accounting for 20 goals scored.
One particular asset to the UBC power play has been rookie defender, Mairead Bast. Not only has she added a pile of goals and assists, but she has stepped up and delivered an equally impressive display on the UBC back-end.
“It’s a very humbling experience,” said Bast. “The girls are amazing. I find it awesome that when we win, we celebrate in the moment, but we know what we have to do the next day. We never take it for granted, we just keep working every single day. Our practices are always hard.”
In 15 games, Bast has scored 5 goals, to go with her 8 assists. The power play has proven to be her bread and butter with 11 points coming when UBC has the man-advantage. The Bast blast from the point has her tied for first in Canada West power play goals with five. Bast is also tied for first in points by a defender with UBC teammate, Kelly Murray. The potent UBC power play has been a surprise for Bast who hasn’t always been a power play specialist.
“I’ve been pretty defensive and offensive,” admitted Bast. “This year, more offensive than I ever have been before. I think I owe it to the girls, they’re a great group and our power play has really been working for us. We’ve been working on it for a while now, and being able to capitalize on the opportunities when we have those chances are key in games. Ultimately, speciality teams do win championships.”
What’s been the big factor in the UBC power play success, and the lethal Bast blast from the point?
“I don’t think there is a key,” revealed a modest Bast. “I think it’s just staying focused and owing it to the girls. They make it so easy for me to play, and I hope that I make it easy for them to play. Ultimately we work as team, and getting those goals are big. It’s a team, we support each other, and the power play is key.”
The Red Deer, Alberta native, has shown her true grit, and character during the last month. We often hear about the tough Canadian hockey player mentality. Playing through pain, not missing a shift, and contributing despite an injury. On Wednesday, November 9, Bast had an unfortunate incident at practice. A drill was taking place with the hockey nets off to the side. Without seeing the moved nets, a crash occurred.
“You know what, I was not looking, I wasn’t really paying attention,” said Bast when asked about her collision with the hockey nets at practice. “I was reaching to get a puck behind me, from Hannah (Clayton-Carroll). I just dove right into the net, and I hurt my wrist.”
The diagnosis was a TFCC tear (Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex). In layman’s terms, Bast sustained a cartilage tear above her smallest finger (pinky), on her right wrist. She only missed one game. Bast made her return to the UBC lineup on Saturday, November 19 against the Regina Cougars.
“The wrist is getting better,” said Bast. “It’s still not one hundred percent, but it is getting better. The break will be good for it, just to let it rest a little bit. I have been playing through it. It’s a TFCC tear, so I tore some cartilage.”
The 18 year-old defender will be looking forward to healing her wrist during the Christmas break. The Thunderbirds will continue to hold sporadic practices next week, but the heavy lifting has concluded for the first half of the season.
Bast will also look to spend some quality time with family and friends. The Bast family have hockey in their blood, father, Tom Bast, was also quite the scoring machine. Bast put up 272 points in 271 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The hockey genes clearly run in the family with her brothers lacing up the skates as well.
“I have two brothers and a sister,” revealed a proud Mairead Bast. “My sister never played hockey, both my brothers do play hockey. My older brother (Gabe) plays in Pentiction for the Vees, and my younger brother (Luke) plays midget hockey in Red Deer. Red Deer is a very hometown hockey feel. When there’s a game, everyone is there. My dad (Tom) he played hockey, he’s been a really big supporter, and I look up to him. In the sense that he was a great hockey player. He always tells us that hockey is a privilege, not a right. Being able to learn from him, and my brothers has been key.”
The USports number one ranked Thunderbirds will use the Christmas and exam break to rest up with several players nursing injuries. The action on the ice returns on Friday, January 6 vs Alberta. Bast will look to recover from her wrist injury, and the Pandas will look to stop any Bast blasts from the point.