Archive for the ‘Women’s Hockey’ Category

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The UBC Thunderbirds at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre, Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are off the Canada West semi-finals after a convincing sweep of the Regina Cougars in the quarter-finals. UBC came out flying and thrashed the Cougars 5-0 and 5-1 at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. USports no.9 ranked UBC will face no.3 ranked Manitoba in the best of three series starting on Friday.

The Thunderbirds will face their stiffest opponent this season. Manitoba is the reigning 2018 Canada West, and USports national champion. The old adage rings true, To Be The Best You Have to Beat The Best.’ UBC is looking for their third trip to USports nationals in the past four campaigns. All they have to do is beat Manitoba twice at Wayne Fleming Arena.

“It’s going to be like a national calibre final,” Coach Graham Thomas told Har Journalist while eating lunch earlier this week. “They’re a top ranked team, and they have been all year. Canada West defending champions and national defending champions. They have a large senior class, they’re a veteran team. They’ve been there before, and we’ve got to know that going in. They’re experienced and a confident group.”

An experienced team is a huge x-factor in any playoff series, Manitoba knows what it takes to be a champion. UBC is coming in hungry, they want to be where Manitoba was last year. The Thunderbirds are locked in and preparing for a monumental battle.

“We’re really excited just to be taking it one day at a time,” Toronto native, Amelia Boughn explained. “That’s kind of the mindset we’ve had the whole season. Not looking at the bigger picture, but just focusing on what we have to do each day.”

UBC was able to skate circles vs Regina, that won’t be the case in Manitoba. The Cougars didn’t put up much of a fight. The Thunderbirds and Bisons split the season series, UBC earned a point in every game with a 2-0-2 record. Three of four games went to overtime, and two went to a shootout, with each team winning in hostile territory.

“I think we prepare the same way as always,” Mathea Fischer said. “We’re prepared for a big battle, and they’re obviously not going to be a big blowout. We prepare the same way, and trust the process. Big opponent, and they’re going to come at us hard, we’re going to expect that.”

The Thunderbirds are clicking at exactly the right time. They’re getting depth scoring from all four lines. Fischer was named Canada West women’s first star of the week. The line of Brie Bellerive, Fischer, and Hannah Clayton-Carroll lit the lamp with 4 goals, and 7 assists vs Regina.

“The whole team has been playing really well these past couple of weeks,” Fischer said, downplaying her hot streak. “I think we’re on a roll right now. Obviously playing with great line-mates, we just want to keep that going, and try to create as much offence as we can, as a team. Every line has been producing. That’s the strength of our team, just the depth that we have.”

If the Thunderbirds are going to topple the Bisons, they’re going to have to continue to stick to what’s got them where they are. Solid sixty-minute hockey, strong special teams, brilliant goaltending, and timely goals. It would also help to stay out of the penalty box.

While the Canada West no.2 ranked Bisons are coming off a bye week. UBC has momentum, and that’s something you can’t just pick up off a shelf. UBC is a positive, prepared team, that’s ready for the next challenge, and the Bisons present the top challenge in USports.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in our group, especially in the last half of the season,” Thomas echoed. “Minus a few games, we’ve been lights out in the second half. We’ve drawn a lot of confidence from that. Our power play has been great, our special teams have been great. Players that haven’t scored for a while, are scoring.”

“It’s good for us right now, we’re hitting a peak at the right time. We just want to keep going and keep getting better.”

UBC’s six graduating seniors would love an opporunity to go to USports nationals in Prince Edward Island to play for a national championship, next month. As a fifth-year goalie, Boughn isn’t ready to call it a day.

“I think it would be a lot of fun,” Boughn described what a trip to USports nationals would mean. “I just love this group, and I love spending time with this group. To be able to go to P.E.I, it’d be a great experience and a great opportunity for all of us. We’re really focused on the day-to-day. If we take care of the day-to-day, the rest will take care of itself.”

Not only is UBC hungry for wins, but there’s also an appetite for food. Every hockey player loves a good post-game chow down, and Boughn is no different. She is hopeful UBC has a lot more post-game meals left.

“You know, I like a good steak, that’s always good,” Boughn said. “Maybe some Bison burgers. Honestly, after the game, I like steak or rice, not too picky. Whatever they give us on the road, and sometimes the occasional smoothie.” 

UBC’s road to the 2019 USports Women’s Hockey Championship, March 14 – 17 in P.E.I will have to go through the Manitoba Bisons. The puck drops on Friday, and both teams know what’s at steak.

 

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VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit Daily Hive for my story on the UBC Thunderbirds fight for equality off the ice.

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The UBC Thunderbirds on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 – Photo: Har Journalist 

 

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UBC Thunderbirds goaltender, Tory Micklash in action. Photo: Rich Lam – UBC Thunderbirds

VANCOUVER, B.C – The Canada West season wraps up this weekend with the UBC Thunderbirds hosting the Regina Cougars at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Both teams are heading to the playoffs with potential matchups still to be determined.

The 16-5-5 Thunderbirds are locked into the third position in the conference with 49 points. UBC can’t move up or down. Regina on the other hand will either finish fifth or sixth in Canada West. An 11-12-3 record gives the Cougars 34 points. The Mount Royal Cougars sit in sixth position with 31 points as they chase down their namesake.

How big are these games?

“Honestly, not that big,” Regina Cougars Coach Sarah Hodges explained. “UBC can’t move up or down, we can move down, but not up – so in the grand scheme of things, we’ve both had more important weekends.”

A UBC vs Regina first round playoff series is a distinct possibility. The two teams last met in the playoffs in 2016. UBC won that Canada West semifinal series 2 – 1, and eventually won a silver medal at the 2016 USports Nationals.

Coach Hodges, is down playing the potentiality of a first round meeting.

“A first round playoff matchup is possible, but I think unlikely.” Hodges explained.

The Thunderbirds have a 2-0-0 record against Regina this season, out-scoring the Cougars 4-1 when the teams met at the Co-Operators Centre in November.

UBC has dominated Regina in Vancouver, with a 4-0-0 record in recent regular season play. The Cougars have been out-scored 14 – 7 and have taken zero points on the west coast in the last two seasons. Regina’s last regular season victory in Vancouver against UBC was on February 6, 2016.

“It is a potential opening playoff matchup,” UBC Thunderbirds Coach Graham Thomas told Har Journalist. “It’s either Regina or Mount Royal. A lot can still happen in the last two games. We need to be ready for that. Primarily its just going to be about us. We’re still definitely playing to win, to keep our confidence, and our game improving.”

There’s always an intense battle when the UBC Thunderbirds and Regina Cougars meet in Vancouver. It’s not on the level of the recent St. FX and Acadia University donnybrook, but UBC and Regina don’t like each other. Both teams combined for 28 separate penalties when the teams met for the first time in Vancouver last season.

Regina was called for three separate hit to the head penalties. There was several after the whistle faces washes, and plenty of stick work. It was an intense sixty-minutes of chippy hockey.

“We’re hoping that it’s not one of those weekends,” Thomas said. “I think with some of our past players that are now alumni, I think a lot of that has died off with them as they graduated.”

“This year when we played them, it wasn’t as physical. I don’t think there’s that rivalry at a heightened level anymore. I think it’s just two teams playing hard, battling, and competing. We don’t anticipate it, and we definitely won’t be looking to do that.”

While it certainly could be another physical matchup, neither team wants to head into the playoffs with any injuries. It’s a long gruelling Canada West season, and both teams will want to end the campaign on a positive note as they build momentum for the playoffs.

The rivalry might have been there in the past, but as Hodges explains, it’s dwindling.

“It’s not really.” Hodges disagreed. “The games in Regina are pretty normal. The games in Vancouver can be more physical.”

UBC will honour their six graduating senior players on Saturday. Amelia Boughn, Logan Boyd, Brie Bellerive, Emily Costales, Madison Patrick, and Celine Tardif will all be honoured prior to puck drop.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Thomas echoed. “It’s a big weekend for our seniors. It’s a lot of emotions, but we’re going to try and stick to the task at hand, and have a one-game at a time mentality.”

It’s February, and the Canada West playoffs are right around the corner. This weekend could very well be an appetizer for another classic UBC vs Regina Canada West playoff battle.

UBC Thunderbirds vs Regina Cougars, Friday February 8 at 7:00 pm pt

UBC Thunderbirds vs Regina Cougars, Saturday February 9 at 2:00 pm pt

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The UBC Thunderbirds putting in work, January 2019. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – It’s crunch time as the race to solidify a position in the Canada West playoffs heats up. The UBC Thunderbirds are clicking at exactly the right time. UBC is on a three game winning streak thanks to back-to-back shutouts from goalie Tory Micklash.

A home sweep of the Saskatchewan Huskies helped UBC clinch a Canada West playoff spot. Where the team ends up finishing is a race that will go down to the wire.

UBC is a well-connected, close-knit team on the ice, but what about off ice?

A successful hockey team can be measured by how together the team is away from the rink.

“It’s unbelievable,” echoed fourth-year forward Hannah Clayton-Carroll. “It’s like we’re a second family. We do everything together. All of us pretty much live together in different apartments. We’re always looking to hangout with each other, and do things. Always studying together, we literally can not get enough of each other. It’s just really nice to have a good team environment, and always feel included in everything.”

“I’d say it’s like a family to me,” Waterdown, Ontario native, Logan Boyd explained. “I’m not from around here, so I’d say it’s like my family when I’m here. It’s really nice every year we have a new group of girls, everyone fits into the team really well.”

“Oh its super special,” Amelia Boughn added. “We’ve got a super special culture here. Every girl on our team just cares for the next, a tremendous amount. It’s unlike any other team I’ve been a part of. It’s my last couple of months. I’m enjoying it and trying to soak up every last-minute.”

The 15-5-4 Thunderbirds currently sit in third place in the conference with 46 points. Manitoba and Alberta hold the top two spots with 53 points each. If UBC is going to leap-frog the Bisons or Pandas and earn a first round playoff bye. They must continue playing consistent sixty minute hockey.

UBC will get a chance to test themselves against the Bisons this weekend. The Thunderbirds head out on the road to the polar vortex that is Manitoba.

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UBC Thunderbirds forward Logan Boyd, January 2019. Photo: Har Journalist

Having a positive, encouraging, and supportive atmosphere makes players want to show up, and be held accountable. Everyone in the UBC locker room is playing for each other. You won’t find culture on a depth chart, you have to build a strong foundation from within. The Thunderbirds are growing, hungry, and ready to battle for a top spot.

“I think our culture is something that’s really important to us,” Boyd explained. “We’ve built this culture where everyone is supportive of each other and everyone wants each other to do well. It’s really easy getting out on the ice knowing that everyone on the bench and in the stands has your back and wants you to do well.”

UBC is a dangerous team that can beat anyone in the country. Securing home ice advantage at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre will be the key for a long Canada West playoff run.

The 2019 USports Nationals will be held in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, March 14 – 17. As a senior forward that has won silver, and bronze at nationals with UBC. Boyd would love to close out her final season with a gold medal.

“We’re all on the same page,” Boyd said. “We know what needs to get done, and now we’re just working on getting that done.”

A winning recipe has a terrific offence, defence, goaltending, and great special teams. UBC has all the hockey ingredients necessary for success. A lot of what makes the Thunderbirds who they are is because of the strong bond the team has formed as a tight hockey family.

 

 

 

 

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The UBC Thunderbirds at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on Monday, January 21, 2019 – Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C –  Friday night is hockey night for the UBC Thunderbirds, as they return to Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre to take on the Saskatchewan Huskies. The 13-5-4 Thunderbirds are in the thick of a competitive Canada West playoff race looking to secure a first round playoff bye next month.

Not only is it an important game on the ice, but it’s going to be a special night for the Thunderbirds family. UBC will host its third Bell Let’s Talk game to help raise awareness for mental health issues, and to help end the stigma associated with mental health.

Mental health doesn’t care if you’re an athlete, barista, doctor, or police officer. It’s something that affects everyone. We all know someone who is battling mental health issues. It’s important to be there to help those who need support, and a comforting ear.

“It’s something that we’ve all experienced in our lives,” Coach Graham Thomas said. “In my family we’ve gone through struggles, me personally, and I think many of us have. It’s a good way to be reminded that we’re all in this together. At some point in our lives, everybody is going to be faced with similar things.”

“It’s good that we’re stronger together and we’re talking about it. We’re looking at strategies, we’re coping, and being resilient through adversity in our own lives.”

“It means a lot to our team, and what we’ve gone through with Laura Taylor.”

The suicide of UBC Thunderbirds goalie Laura Taylor in April, 2016 was a tremendous loss for her family and the UBC community. In the time since, the Thunderbirds have stepped up and opened doors so others don’t have to suffer in silence.

UBC President Santa Ono, has been a strong and vocal advocate for mental health. He has been very open about his own challenges with mental health issues. Ono will be on hand for a special ceremonial puck drop.

While it’s important to raise awareness on Bell Let’s Talk Day, (January 30, 2019). It’s vital that mental health awareness isn’t just a cause that we remember to talk about every January. There are no off days for depression, anxiety, and the struggles of daily life.

Thunderbirds defender, Mikayla Ogrodniczuk helped create the UBC Athletes Hub, a fantastic resource to help students, athletes, and anyone who is seeking help for mental health issues. The Vancouver native devoted her own time to make a difference and help other people’s lives.

“Mikayla has been incredible,” Thomas beamed. “That’s where it started. She created the student Athletes Hub for resources. It’s very near and dear to our hearts. I think we have a few players every year that the more that they talk about it, the more we’re open about it.”

“It’s like a physical injury, it needs to get treatment to get back. To me there’s no difference. That’s how we look at it, and we all support and love each other in that. That’s why it’s so important to us.”

The Thunderbirds already have a jump-start on dealing with mental health, and they will look to jump all over Saskatchewan. Sitting in third place with 40 points, UBC has a one-point lead on the Huskies as both teams try to track down a playoff bye.

UBC has had trouble putting together a sixty-minute game. Goaltending, and defence have been on point. It’s up to the offence, and special teams to ripple the twine. The best teams always find ways to win down the stretch, and that’s what UBC aims to do.

“We need to approach every game like it’s our last and it’s a playoff game,” Thomas explained. “Not get focused on the big picture of national championships and byes. We all know it’s a goal of ours, and we know it’s on our minds. We kind of need to take it one day at a time.”

“There should be no lack of motivation going down to the last six games. They’re all big games, they all have playoff implications. That’s why we play the game. That’s the exciting part of the game.” 

UBC Thunderbirds vs Saskatchewan Huskies, Friday January 25 at 7:00 pm pt

UBC Thunderbirds vs Saskatchewan Huskies, Saturday January 26 at 7:00 pm pt

VANCOUVER, B.C – Please visit The Ice Garden for my feature on Hockey Canada forward, Rebecca Johnston.

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The UBC Thunderbirds hard at work at Father David Bauer Arena. December 7, 2018. Photo: Har Journalist

VANCOUVER, B.C – The UBC Thunderbirds are on a break as Canada West pauses for the month of December. UBC finished the first half of the season with a 10-3-3 record and third spot in the conference with 30 points. The Thunderbirds go into the break, winners in four of their last five games, out scoring opponents 10 – 4.

University hockey is a long grind, most would welcome some time away from the rink to close out the year, but what about UBC? It’s a lot easier to lose momentum then it is to build it back up again. UBC was on a roll. Offence was clicking, defence was on point, and goaltending was a sublime. However, injury recovery is key, and exams had to take focus.

“No, I think it comes at a good time,” UBC Thunderbirds Coach Graham Thomas explained. “This league is tight, and every team can win on any night. We need to get better during this break. We can’t not be afraid to fail, and wanting to go out there and make something happen. Let’s stay sharp, and keep working hard.”

Canada West goalkeepers will need to stay sharp in the second half. Especially with UBC leading goal-scorer, Hannah Clayton-Carroll hovering around the net. In 12 games, the fourth-year winger has racked up 6 goals, and 6 assists this season.

“I think a break at this time,” Clayton-Carroll said. “Blues are hitting, and I think we’re all ready for a little break. Get rested, getting away from the rink for a little bit, gets us all excited to try harder, and player harder. I think a break is going to be good for us, and hopefully we’ll come back harder in the new year.”

UBC is going to need all the rest they can get during the Christmas break, because the second half of the season is when contenders, and pretenders emerge. UBC returns to the rink with a pair of games vs Mount Royal on Friday, January 4 and Saturday, January 5 at Father David Bauer Arena.

January will also feature a pair of road trips to Alberta. UBC takes on the Alberta Pandas, and Calgary Dinos on back to back weekends. January concludes with a barn burner as the Saskatchewan Huskies visit UBC at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre on January 25, and 26.

“Our hope is that the players come in fresh, and excited,” Thomas echoed. “It is the most exciting part of the season. It goes fast. We have 12 regular season games left, and then playoffs begin right away, and we need to be ready. Our hope is that we come in excited, and each individual is excited about the opportunity to make an impact in the second half. To not be afraid to fail, and not wanting to go out there and make something happen.”

Fifth year senior goalie, Amelia Boughn is all about taking a step back and enjoying every single moment. The Canada West season can fly by if you don’t take time to appreciate what’s happening around you. Boughn doesn’t want to miss anything.

The Toronto, native, has posted a 3-1-2 record with two shutouts, and a 1.50 goals against average this season.

“I think just really taking it day-to-day,” Boughn admitted. “One day at a time, having fun, getting the music pumping in practice, and doing some game like stuff. Keep the energy high, and keep the girls focused on getting ready, so when we get start-up after Christmas, we’re ready to go.”

How quickly UBC can get back into a winning rhythm will significant.

“Consistency, sticking to our playing style, playing hard always, is really big for us, and always giving it our all. Hopefully that will end on a good note,” Clayton-Carroll said.

If there is a reason why UBC could be sluggish to start the second half, you can chalk it up to Christmas treats, that we all know and love. Tis the season to indulge, but you still have to fit into your hockey gear on January 1.

“I’m probably a sweets guy,” Thomas revealed. “So are our players with little candies, and chocolates that are around. I’m not so much a baking guy. I kind of like the candies, and little treats.”

“Baking,” Clayton-Carroll chimed in. “I like sugar cookies, that’s my go to.”

There’s often a break in the action when a goalie might not have an increased work load. That’s perfect for Boughn, because she has a trove of Christmas decadents to enjoy.

“Oh, I have lots of favourite treats,” Boughn smiled, as she rattled off a list. “I’m a personal fan of Christmas cake, with a little bit of lemon sauce. My grandma also makes a mean lemon tart. I’m a fan of those as well, but chocolates always a good go to. Lots of treats.”

“I go home. I like to go to church with my grandma on Christmas Eve, and drive around looking at the lights. I like to eat lots of food on Christmas. Turkey, and stuff.”

The hustle and bustle of the Christmas season is upon us. It’s always important to spend time with family, and friends, while also giving back, and reflecting on the year that it’s been. 2019 is near, and soon the Thunderbirds will be raring to hit the ice.