NAPANEE, Ont. (U SPORTS) – The No.1 UBC Thunderbirds finished off the 2017 U SPORTS Women’s Hockey Championship at the Strathcona Paper Centre in Napanee, Ont. with a 2-0 win over the No.7 Concordia Stingers to take the U SPORTS bronze medal.
For UBC, they pick up a U SPORTS medal for the second straight year after claiming silver in 2016 and finish with a 2-1 record at the championship. Despite entering the national championship as the No.1 seed, the Thunderbirds finish their season with a Canada West gold and U SPORTS bronze.
The Concordia Stingers close out their tournament with a fourth place finish to go along with their RSEQ silver all after losing seven of their first nine games to start the season in conference play.
“I can’t say enough about our group,” said UBC Head Coach Graham Thomas after the win. “The character in the room, starting with our leaders, we had eight seniors (this year). Our leadership group has led the team all year, all credit to them. Concordia played a physical game, played really hard. I give them credit, it was a really great hockey game.”
Game-winning goal scorer Cassandra Vilgrain admitted that, while the bronze was the T-Birds’ goal on Sunday, it wasn’t the colour they had hoped for entering the tournament.
“It’s going to be a chip on our shoulders next season, and we’re going to come back wanting gold,” said Vilgrain, who transferred to UBC from the University of New Hampshire last summer. “It was a really special season with a really special group; the girls genuinely care about each other, the staff cares about their players, and it translates onto the ice.”
The Thunderbirds had a pair of powerplay goals in a penalty filled game with Cassandra Vilgrain scoring in the first and Logan Boyd adding the insurance marker in the third.
Amelia Boughn shut the door for the Thunderbirds stopping all 21 shots thrown her way to pick up the shutout while Concordia had a strong game once again from Katherine Purchase who turned aside 19 of 21. Boughn finishes the tournament allowing just two goals and finishing with a goal against average of 0.68 and save percentage of 0.971.
In the first period, the Thunderbirds opened the scoring on the powerplay. A deflected point shot created a rebound at the side of the net, All-Canadian Vilgrain made no mistake, tapping in the rebound.
After a flurry of penalties late in the first and through the second slowed the game down but both goalies held their own to keep it a one-goal game after 40 minutes.
Boyd put the game away for UBC late in the third period as the Thunderbirds connected again on the powerplay. The Thunderbird forward fired a shot top-shelf from the slot sealing the bronze medal for UBC.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our team. Our girls have worked really hard to get back to nationals,” said Concordia head coach Julie Chu on her young team after the game. “Our program has had a long tradition of success in the past. Over the last couple of years we’ve worked really hard to have this opportunity, and our team did a tremendous job. I am truly, truly proud of the way they fought.”
GAME NOTES: The game finished with 16 penalties combined between the two teams for 32 total minutes with Concordia finishing 0-8 on the powerplay… Concordia has not medaled at nationals since 1999… UBC did not allow a powerplay goal in the championship killing off all 19 penalties.