Thunderbirds catch a break

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Cougars women’s hockey loss lets UBC snap losing streak

Autumn McDowell
Sports Writer

The University of Regina Cougars women’s hockey team welcomed a UBC Thunderbirds squad to town last weekend that was trying to snap a six-game losing streak. The streak showed now signs of stopping any time soon, or so the Cougars thought.

The end result was a split in Canada West action on Friday and Saturday at the Co-operators Centre.

“I thought we came out ready to play in the first game,” said Cougars forward Katie Kennedy, who could have easily been named the hardest-working Cougar on both nights. “In the second game, we were off a little bit in the first and second but we came together in the third”.

Night one saw strong play at both ends of the ice from the home team. Hillary Lerat and Paige Wheeler proved that they were a forced to be reckoned with, as the pair set each other up in the first and second periods to get the Cougars on the board. The Thunderbirds were able to steal the shutout away from Lisa Urban a mere three minutes into the third, but that would prove to be the only offence that the visitor’s would generate. Urban was solid, making 26 saves.

The Cougars earned a 2-1 victory and, more importantly, the two points.

Night two would not prove to be so easy.

The Cougars offence was quiet for the majority of the game, but the players sure weren’t as they screamed at almost every aspect of the game. Whether a teammate made a terrible pass or a great one, whether they fanned on a shot, or fired one right on net, everything was scream-worthy.

UBC’s Tamara Pickford would be the first player to light the lamp, as she managed to squeak a power play marker past Urban four minutes into the first. Teammate Emily Grainger was able to strike precisely a minute later on yet another power play as penalties were already proving to be costly for Regina.

The Cougars came out in the second period ready to make a comeback, but a goal two minutes in by Kailtin Imai extended the Thunderbirds lead to three, thus digging the Cougars hole even deeper.

Regina could have easily given up on the night, but they weren’t done yet as Kennedy managed to generate her own scoring chance, taking advantage of a costly mistake by a UBC player. While UBC bobbled the puck on yet another power play, Kennedy was able to scoop the puck up and get a breakaway. Kennedy finished off some fancy stick handling with a shorthanded goal and enjoyed a lengthy and well deserved celebration afterwards.

“It felt pretty good,” said Kennedy of the goal, “I was pretty excited about that.”

Kennedy’s unassisted goal with six minutes left in the third would be the only thing on the score sheet for the Cougars, as UBC snapped its seven-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory. It was another solid performance by Urban, however, who turned aside 25 shots.

The Cougars now sit fifth in the conference at 6-10-2. They currently trail Saskatchewan for the fourth and final playoff spot by nearly 10 points and it will take a minor miracle for them to make a push for the post-season.

However, as Kennedy states, “We just have to believe that we can do it and come out strong and ready to go”.

The Cougars will travel to Manitoba (12-4-1) on Friday and Saturday to take on the third-place Bisons in what could prove to be two extremely important games for Regina.

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