Jeff Sargeant/UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – Riding the strength of their power play, the visiting Mount Royal Cougars (5-5-1) handed the UBC Thunderbirds (5-5-1) a 4-1 loss to open up a weekend doubleheader at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre Friday night.
The Cougars scored twice on the power play, made good on a second period penalty shot, and added an empty netter to move into a tie with the T-Birds with 11 points, good for fifth place in the Canada West standings.
"We came in loose, we came in complicated, I've never seen so many saucer pass attempts out there," said a frustrated UBC head coach Sven Butenschon. "We looked like we wanted to play a soft, fancy, Harlem Globetrotter game and it doesn't work. It's a good league, you got to respect your opponent, respect the game plan the coaches design for you, and follow it."
Mount Royal was better in every aspect of the game, outshooting the 'Birds 38-24 while limiting UBC to just one power play opportunity.
The turning point, at least as far as the scoreboard was concerned, came in the final second of the middle frame when Bradley Kennedy hammered a one-timer for his seventh of the season to give the Cougars a 2-1 lead in what turned out to be the game winner.
The 'Birds put up 13 shots in the third but the period still belonged to the Cougars who staked themselves to a two-goal lead at the 4:24 mark when Connor Rankin scored the visitors' second power play goal of the game but just their sixth of the season. UBC pulled Matt Hewitt for the extra attacker with about two minutes remaining but Jamal Watson took a Tanner Olstad feed and put it into the empty net to put the game on ice.
Hewitt finished the game with 34 saves, several of which were of the spectacular variety to allow the 'Birds a chance to stay in the game. Mount Royal's Cam Lanigan made 23 saves for his second win of the season.
UBC's only goal came eight minutes into the second when Shaun Dosanjh hammered home his first of the season in his first game as a Thunderbird. Kyler Nachtigall skated the puck into the Cougars' zone on the left-wing boards and fed it to Dosanjh in the slot to give the T-Birds the 1-0 lead. Kyle Becker picked up the second assist.
"It was good to see Shaun out there," said Butenschon. "He can skate, he can hit, he's a great addition to our team. But you can't just have one line going."
Mount Royal tied the game at the 14:46 mark on a rare penalty shot by Morgan Zulinick. The third-year forward was hooked while on a late breakaway chance and beat Hewitt five-hole on a back-hand shot for his second of the season.
The Cougars were handed a late second period power play and just as it appeared the T-Birds' penalty kill would get them to the break with the game still tied at one, Luke Simpson collected the puck out of the corner and quickly fed it to Kennedy who beat Hewitt just before the buzzer sounded.
UBC will look to end their two-game skid in Saturday's rematch with the Cougars.
"Tomorrow's a huge game for us, we got to bounce back," added Butenschon. "The guys know, they said the right things after the game, now it's just a matter of doing it."
Puck drop at Doug Mitchell is 2:00 p.m. PT.
PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds