VANCOUVER – After trailing by two goals entering the third period, Grayson Pawlenchuk scored the tying marker and the game winner on a power play in overtime to give the Alberta Golden Bears (1-0) a 4-3 season opening win over the host UBC Thunderbirds (0-0-1) Friday night at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre.
Nolan Volcan cut UBC’s lead to one 3:53 into the third on a deflection on the man advantage. Just 12 seconds later, Pawlenchuk capitalized on a T-Birds turnover, outwaiting UBC starter Rylan Toth and depositing it over his outstretched glove.
The ‘Birds were able to restore their composure but weren’t able to generate much by way of chances, forcing overtime.
After Tyler Sandhu was called for a hooking minor early in 4-on-4 action, the Bears whipped the puck around the offensive zone with rookie Noah Philp making a perfect back door feed to Pawlenchuk to earn the extra point for the visitors.
The T-Birds started the game strong with the early edge in possession and scoring opportunities. UBC was rewarded for their efforts when second-year forward Colton Kehler opened scoring at the 12:39 mark. Carter Popoff recovered the puck along the right wing boards, quickly fed it out to Kehler in the slot whose quick shot beat Brendan Burke five-hole.
Just over two minutes later on their first power play of the game, Austin Glover popped home a rebound off a Kehler shot.
But less than a minute later the Bears responded when Trevor Cox took advantage of a UBC turnover along the boards, firing the puck into an open cage.
Maxwell James restored the T-Birds’ two-goal advantage midway through the third with a nifty in-tight goal on the power play. Popoff earned his second assist of the night on the goal while rookie defenceman Jonathan Smart earned his first point as a Thunderbird.
The Golden Bears outshot the ‘Birds 38-22. Both teams finished the game 2-for-4 on the power play.
UBC and Alberta are set to play the second half of their weekend double header Saturday. Puck drop is 7:00 p.m. PT at Father David Bauer Arena.