Jeff Sargeant, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – Fans at Father Bauer Arena were treated to a rare treat Saturday afternoon when Cassandra Vilgrain scored on a double overtime penalty shot to give the No. 3 UBC Thunderbirds (12-4-2-2) a 3-2 win over the Regina Cougars (6-10-1-3) to sweep the weekend double header and make it a perfect 4-0 start to 2018.
Down by a goal to start the third, the Cougars came out like a team possessed, outshooting the 'Birds by a 15-1 margin. Four minutes into the final frame, Regina's Lilla Carpenter-Boesch centred the puck from below the goal line to a wide-open Emma Waldenberger in the slot who fired home her sixth of the season to tie the game at two.
The Cougars continued to press but Amelia Boughn was solid between the pipes for the 'Birds, finishing the game with 31 saves and her fifth win of the season.
After four-on-four overtime solved nothing, the two teams headed to three-on-three. Just as it seemed a shootout was in order, a Regina skater was called for closing her hand on the puck in the crease, awarding UBC the penalty shot.
Vilgrain had scored earlier in the game and was electric throughout the contest and thus was chosen to take the shot on Regina's Morgan Baker. The fifth-year forward streaked quickly right down the middle and out-waited Baker, backhanding the puck overtop the sprawled-out goaltender to seal the emotional victory for the Thunderbirds.
While Friday night's game saw a combined 25 power plays, Saturday's rematch was a different story with just seven combined man advantages. UBC opened scoring with just 19 seconds remaining in the first when Mathea Fischer pounced on a loose puck after a mad scramble in front of the crease, roofing it into the top corner for her third of the season. Madison Patrick and Emily Costales picked up the helpers as the 'Birds took the 1-0 lead into the second.
The Cougars answered six minutes into the middle frame when Jaycee Magwood fooled Boughn with a knucklepuck shot for her sixth of the season tying the game at one.
But the 'Birds got their lead back at the 13:37 mark when Vilgrain scored her first of the night on a tremendous rush to the net finished off by a beautiful bar-down shot, assisted by Celine Tardif and Mikayla Ogrodniczuk.
UBC had another solid night on special teams going 1-for-4 on the power play and killing off all three Regina chances. Thanks in large part to a lopsided third period, the Cougars finished the game with a 33-24 shots on goal margin.
The win ensures the 'Birds remain in first place in the Canada West, one point ahead of the Manitoba Bisons.
UBC begins a stretch of four straight road games next weekend in Lethbridge taking on the Pronghorns on January 19 and 20 while the Cougars host the Alberta Pandas in Regina.
PHOTO: Bob Frid, UBC Thunderbirds