Cougar women’s hockey continues winning ways at UBC

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Jane Kish stops 56 shots on the way to a Cougars shutout record.

In 2020 the Cougars have been on the hunt. After catching the Pronghorns in Lethbridge last weekend, they continued a dominant road trip in UBC. The Cougars sunk their teeth into the Thunderbirds, sweeping them 2-0, largely due to strong goaltending and penalty killing. This weekend’s performances extended the team’s record to 10-10, leapfrogging the Thunderbirds, Pronghorns, and Bisons for fifth place in Canada West and into playoff position.

On Friday it was the Jane Kish show. The Cougars’ outstanding netminder had perhaps her best game of the season, stopping 34 of 34 shots to keep the Cougars in the game. She was also the team’s best penalty killer; the Cougars had trouble staying out of the box, taking ten penalties. Led by Kish, the Cougars PK was fantastic, going 10 for 10. Her counterpart for the Thunderbirds, Tory Micklash, didn’t face as much action, seeing only 13 shots, but was solid for two periods. That is, until Cougar Julia Kulbida was able to solve her for the game-winner halfway through the third period. Kish’s fourth shutout of the season tied a team record stretching back to 2003.

On Saturday, the Cougars came out hard and played a much closer game. They limited penalty kill time, taking just three minors. The difference again came at even-strength when Chelsea Hallson put one past Micklash in the second period. Paige Hubbard and Jordan Kulbida got insurance markers late in the third to stymie the Thunderbirds’ hopes. Kish stopped all 18 shots she faced, making it 52 on the weekend. She snapped the Cougars’ single season shutout record at five as well as the career mark at thirteen. Notably, the Cougars also went 13 for 13 on the penalty kill on the weekend, a key to their success.

Their offence also continues to heat up. Captain Jaycee Magwood added to her team-high 15 points, good for seventh in Canada West, and Kulbida has charged into the scoring race as well. The third-year forward has scored in three of her last four games, sneaking into the Canada West top-ten with seven goals in the season. The sniper also boasts an excellent 16.7 per cent shooting percentage, among the leagues best for shooters with over 20 shots. For Kulbida, the team’s effort this weekend was a big one.

“The team’s performance has been great; everyone is giving their full effort and we are working very well as a team. We knew coming into UBC this past weekend we needed 6 points and it wasn’t going to be easy, but we battled through as a team and had a huge success.”

She also pointed to the performance of Kish as instrumental in their recent hot streak.

“Jane had a great weekend; she was making some huge saves in order to keep us in the game and everyone’s positive energy was outstanding.”

“From the first day we got back after Christmas the team has been mentally and physically prepared for all practices before heading into the new year. Everyone on the team has bought into our systems and accepted their roles. We have been focusing on staying positive through the games no matter the outcome and everyone is contributing in their own way and that very important for us as a team moving forward.”

Despite this positive approach, the team has been feeling the pressure.

“I think knowing that we needed to start winning more games here in the new year to make sure we have a playoff spot really helped our team realize that we needed to step it up. We are rolling the lines and each line is setting the other lines up for success which is huge, my line mates (Lilla and Merissa) and I have been working really well together and hope to continue doing so moving forward.”

As for Kulbida’s role in the team’s success, the sniper doesn’t put much emphasis in the individual accolades.

“I want what’s best for the team and it’s always great when you can help your team get on the board. Everyone is contributing to the team success in their own way and we wouldn’t be able to accomplish what we have in the past few weekends without everyone doing their role.”

So, what’s next for the red-hot Cougars?

“Everyone is excited to be back in the playoffs again, but we want to keep moving forward and continue to keep winning and moving up in the standings. We just need to continue playing consistent hockey and focusing on our own team and control the things that we can control.”

Their next test will come at home on January 17-18 against the fourth-place Mount Royal University. This battle of the Cougars will decide the holder of fourth place in Canada West, as the teams boast matching 10-10 records. It will also be the U of R’s first test against top of the table team’s in 2020 and as the playoff race heats up, it should get intense. While the Cougars penalty-kill has been fantastic, playing shorthanded for thirty-minutes is no way to win hockey games and staying disciplined will be a key against a tough Mount Royal team. For Kulbida, she is looking for more of the same.

“This upcoming weekend we just need to be consistent throughout three periods and continue playing our game and trusting in our teammates and coaches. We need to keep the bench positive and hopefully we will be able to get another six points this weekend.”

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