Tory Micklash vs Alberta, Oct. 27, 2018

UBC Thunderbirds goalie Tory Micklash. Photo: Rich Lam UBC Thunderbirds Athletics.

VANCOUVER B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are off to a strong first half start to the season. A six-game winning streak earlier this month has helped UBC to second spot in Canada West with a 8-3-3 record.

In a nine-game stretch from October 12 – November 21, UBC surrendered six goals. The Thunderbirds went 8-0-1 in that span. While offence has been a challenge, UBC has been able to shut the door, and play lock down defence.

“I think it’s just taking care of our zone,” UBC Coach Graham Thomas, explained to Har Journalist. “Making sure we’re responsible and good in our battles. It’s just having pride in protecting our zone first, and coming out five up, and five back. We’re all a a part of it.”

The bond that forms a successful team, is measured by playing for the teammate beside you. UBC is playing hockey together, as a determined team that wants to win for each and everyone in the room.

“The biggest thing has the belief in each other” Thomas added. “The accountability of knowing what we’re trying to do, totally buying into it, holding each other responsible and accountable to make sure that standard is met. That’s been the biggest thing.”

A big part of the UBC success has been the teams number one goaltender, Tory Micklash. The fourth-year shot-stopper, leads the conference with five shutouts. Micklash, has started every game, and she’s been a brick wall in net.

Micklash ranks second in the league with eight wins, and third with 280 saves.

What’s been the key to Micklash’s fantastic start?

“I think just knowing the girls in front of me are going to do their job,” Micklash said. “That gives me the freedom to just focus on doing my job. I know I can trust them to block a shot, when a shot needs to be blocked.”

Micklash’s performance in net has been off the charts. Not only is she the backbone of UBC’s defence, but she is also breaking program records along the way. UBC has had a long list of terrific goaltenders, and Micklash is moving up the charts.

Her 42 career regular season wins have passed the previous mark of 39 set by Danielle Dube.

Micklash’s 16 shutouts have shattered UBC’s previous record of nine held by Melinda Choy.

“It’s flattering, but I don’t think it’s a one man job,” Micklash said, playing down her achievements. “It comes with the team, they’re the ones scoring the goals. I think the wins especially, are such a team concept. I’m not taking any credit for that.”

UBC Thunderbirds Goalie Coach, Pasco Valana, has worked with Micklash since she was in high school in East St. Paul, Manitoba.

“She’s not going to take the credit for the win,” Valana explained. “She’ll take the blame for the losses, but she won’t take the credit for the wins, even though on many occasions she’s unbelievable, and gives us a chance to win all the time.”

The relationship between Micklash and Valana means the world to the UBC goalie.

“I don’t even know if words can describe that.” Micklash said. “I’ve been working with him for seven years. I started working with him when I was in grade 11. Since then, and it’s not even hockey, but my personal growth has grown. He’s definitely more than a hockey coach. Life coach should be in his title somewhere.”

Micklash would fly out to Vancouver for private lessons from Valana. He quickly knew that he was working with a highly talented goalie. Valana helped Thomas and Assistant Coach, Mike Sommer, recruit Micklash to the UBC.

“She’s developed extremely well,” Valana explained. “She’s always been a cerebral student. She really thinks things through, listens carefully. She’s a master at staying calm and relaxed. It’s something that you try to teach goaltenders, it’s one of the challenges that they all have, but it doesn’t seem to be that for Tory. She’s calm, and doesn’t get too excited about anything. That helps her have a clear mind, and clear eyes on the ice.”

UBC will look to get back into the win column following a pair of losses to the Mount Royal Cougars. The Thunderbirds head into the first half break with a pair of home games against the Alberta Pandas on November 29 – 30.

Micklash knows there is still a lot of work left to do this season.

“I think maintaining, and staying consistent.” Micklash describes her goals for the season. “Showing up and having a consistent performance every night, and not having an off night. I still feel like that can happen sometimes. Just trying to find something that can prevent that from happening.”

As the games get tougher, the best goalies rise to the occasion. An inform goaltender can carry a team, and UBC has that in Tory Micklash.

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