VANCOUVER – Brandon Holtby made 39 saves while Arthur Miller scored with just 63 seconds left in regulation as the visiting Regina Cougars (1-4-0) earned their first win of the season, dashing the UBC Thunderbirds’ (0-3-2) hopes of doing the same Friday night at Father David Bauer Arena.
Both goaltenders were stellar as Patrick Dea finished the game with 23 saves, including a first period penalty shot, in his first game action in 7 months.
The game was tied 1-1 late into the third period, overtime looming larger and larger. That was until Miller sniped his second of the year over Dea’s glove to hand the ‘Birds a fifth consecutive loss to start the season.
It was quite the game for Miller who earned a rare penalty shot less than five minutes into the opening frame after being hooked from behind while on a breakaway. On his attempt, the second-year forward came in towards Dea slowly and tried to deke out the UBC netminder who wouldn’t bite, making the stop and keeping the game scoreless.
But the game didn’t remain scoreless for much longer as the Cougars struck on the power play when Tristan Frei was credited with his second of the season. The ‘Birds had just finished killing off a lengthy 5-on-3 and had nearly completed the 5-on-4 kill when Frei had a centering feed attempt bank off a T-Bird’s shin pad and past a helpless Dea, opening scoring at the 8:13 mark.
The ‘Birds finally got one past Holtby late in the second when Quinn Benjafield notched his second of the season. The rookie forward pounced on a loose puck low in the slot and fired it right past Holtby who couldn’t get across in time. Ryan Pouliot picked up his first point as a Thunderbird with the primary assist. Quentin Greenwood earned his first point of the season with the secondary helper.
It remained 1-1 as neither goaltender looked like they would surrender another, that is until Miller made up for his unsuccessful penalty shot in the late stages of the third.
After scoring four power play goals last Saturday in Calgary, the T-Birds went 0-for-4 against the Cougars. Regina finished 1-for-4.
The ‘Birds will continue their hunt for their first win of the season Saturday afternoon when they go for the weekend split with Regina. Puck drop at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre is set for 3:00 p.m. PT.