By Jeff Sargeant – UBC Sports Media
The UBC Thunderbirds earned a 4-1 victory in a thrilling international exhibition against the Chinese women’s national team Monday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Mathea Fischer scored twice in the first period while Shiayli Toni assisted on both as Amelia Boughn picked up the win in net. It was a night full of excitement as well as pomp and circumstance as the Chinese team continued a week-long “Harmony through Hockey” tour. After a ceremonial exchange of gifts the game got underway in front of a raucous crowd of both UBC and Chinese national hockey fans.
It was a unique experience for both teams involved, especially for first-year forward Tiffany Chiu who played her first game as a T-Bird and made the scoresheet with an assist on UBC’s opening goal.
“During warmup I was so star struck but as the game went on I got a little more comfortable especially with my line mates and I think I adapted pretty well,” said Chiu. “It was extremely intense. Being thrust into the spotlight, it’s been an extraordinary experience for me and it helped me develop for sure.”
The Thunderbirds dominated play through the first half of the opening period but didn’t open scoring until the 12:22 mark when Fischer scored her first of two in the frame.
Five minutes later Toni and Fischer hooked up again as the T-Birds took a 2-0 lead into the intermission along with a 14-3 lead in shots. The Chinese gained momentum as the game progressed and looked especially impressive on the penalty kill going a perfect 4-for-4 on the night. China got on the scoreboard 5:13 into the second when Lu Yue put the puck past a sprawling Boughn.
But just 90 seconds later the T-Birds restored the two-goal lead when Katie Zinn picked up a rebound and beat Wang Yuqing with Melissa Goodwin getting the helper. UBC continued to press offensively and were rewarded with another goal at the 16:40 mark with Jenna Carpenter-Boesch earning her third exhibition goal of the year. Both teams switched goaltenders midway through the second with Danielle Wierenga closing out the UBC win while He Siye allowed one goal against but was very strong between the pipes robbing the T-Birds of several grade A scoring chances.
The Thunderbirds out-shot the Chinese 35-14 while the penalty kill went a perfect 4-for-4. UBC head coach Graham Thomas was impressed with the Chinese national team’s ability.
“They have some high-end players and their goaltenders played well and I think they were happy with the competition they got,” said Thomas. “All in all I think it was a success for our team and their team and for women’s hockey.”
The game was also an opportunity for the T-Birds to prepare for this weekend’s upcoming road trip to Edmonton to face the Alberta Pandas Friday and Saturday.
“We tried some different line combinations that we want to see going into the weekend and we wanted to get a bit of practice on our special teams and try some faceoff plays,” said Thomas.
The Thunderbirds visit the Pandas for the first time this season Friday night at 6:00 p.m. PT looking for a third straight win in conference play.