Smart scores in double OT to give T-Birds seventh straight win
at MacEwan University
01/28/2023 | 4 p.m. (PT)
Jan 28 (Sat) / 4pm (PT)
at MacEwan University
Story EDMONTON — Jonathan Smart secured his first goal of the season at the perfect time as the veteran defenseman scored the double overtime win for the UBC Thunderbirds, who defeated the MacEwan Griffins 3-2 on Friday night at Edmonton’s Downtown Community Arena.
Trailing 2-0 with fifteen minutes to go, the T-Birds (15-6-2) rebounded and forced overtime with a dominant third, setting the table for Smart’s eventual overtime winners as UBC ended their winning streak extended seven games.
“I thought we had a pretty good first outing, their goalie made some big saves,” said UBC head coach Sven Butenschon after his team’s fifth win in a row. “In the second period we fell asleep and in the third period we had our backs to the wall. (As the coaching staff) we pushed on them a bit between periods but we also wanted them to enjoy the challenge and see what we can do if we play right for 20 minutes… it was nice to see the lads getting rewarded .”
After Zach Webb gave the Griffins (8-14-1) a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes and caught a rebound from Spencer McLean’s shot, the Griffins made an unlikely record from Hunter Donohoe to take a 2-38 lead go second period.
Kaeden Lane was under fire throughout the middle frame but made 16 of his 31 saves during that period and kept the T-Birds in the fight. The T-Birds’ rookie goaltender stopped several one-timers, including robbing Merritt Oszytko and Jordan Taupert, who had two close-range power-play chances.
The T-Birds came on the board just 65 seconds after the third when Sam Huo stopped a nice tic-tac-toe passing game from Jonathan Smart and Josh Williams that Ashton Abel stood no chance.
The T-Birds kept up the pressure in the third and equalized with 7:39 to go when Ryan Pouliot’s shot went wide of Sasha Mutala, who made a B-line to the knee.
After 6:33 of timid overtime with no real chances, the ‘Birds capitalized when MacEwan flipped the puck inside the T-Birds’ blueline, resulting in an odd-man rush-up ice. Smart made no mistake, firing a left-footed shot past Abel for victory, UBC’s seventh straight win.
“This team plays a kind of playoff style every night,” added Butenschon. “They don’t score a lot of goals so they know they have to defend in their own zone and play desperately and they block so many shots and protect the middle of the ice. Your goalkeeper has made many incredible saves. It’s been a great test for us, the kind of hockey we’re going to face in the playoffs, so let’s get familiar with it.”
Along with an assist for Huo’s record, Smart’s OT winner gives the defenseman 10 points for the season, his third multi-point game of the season.
“He’s been so good for us over the years, this year he’s probably not having the performance he expects from himself but I really like how his game rounds out here in the second half. He plays harder in the defensive zone which allows him to create on the offensive side of things. He sees the ice so well and he has a good racquet, it was only a matter of time before he found the back of the net.”
With Mount Royal losing to Calgary on Friday night and the Huskies idle in a bye week, the T-Birds are now four points ahead of Saskatchewan in fourth place in Western Canada and just three behind the Cougars in third place with five games remaining.
The T-Birds and Griffins will fight for the last time this regular season at 4:00 p.m. PT on Saturday. The game will be broadcast live on Canada West TV.