It was only a matter of time before the reigning Canada West player of the year delivered his first batch of mail to the back of an opposing goal.
Friday night in Prince George, on a perfect autumn evening at Masich Place Stadium the UNBC Timberwolves (1-3-1) secured their first victory of the 2023 Canada West season after an impressive 3-1 decision over the reigning U SPORTS national champs from TRU (0-5-0). Michael Henman paced the UNBC attack with a pair of highlight reel goals while rookie Prince George product Colin Stauffer cemented the victory with his first career Canada West tally during second half stoppage time. A first-year player factored in on all three of UNBC’s goals. TRU’s lone goal came off the foot of Dylan Pauw in the 59th minute.Between the pipes, TWolves goalkeeper Daniel Zadravec turned aside 11 of the 12 TRU shots fired his way while Olivia Jumeau finished with six saves for the visitors.
Despite the eventful finish, Friday’s provincial tilt started cautiously with the teams combining for just one shot through the first 12 minutes. The Wolfpack were happy to slow-play UNBC, especially when they were inching their way out of their own defensive zone. A large amount of patience and resilience would be necessary Friday night, and the home side delivered both in due course.
In the 14th minute, Greg Smith and Michael Henman nearly combined for a goal in close. But Smith’s attempt veered wide of the TRU target. Then in the 17th minute, some crafty passing from outside the 18-yard box along the right wing gave Henman another chance from distance, but TRU goalkeeper Olivier Jumeau notched his first save of the match keeping things scoreless. But not for long.
In the 18th minute, Michael Henman, the reigning Canada West player of the year recorded the first UNBC goal of the season off a low re-direct from the middle of the box. The setup came courtesy of Theo Tate, who took a pass along the left wing on the edge of the box before placing a textbook chest-high cross into the center for Henman who did the rest putting UNBC ahead 1-0 – a score that would stand through the remainder of the first half.
The teams combined for 15 shots in the opening half – eight from TRU and seven from UNBC. Each team managed to place five shots on target. The Wolfpack had a decided edge in corner kicks with five compared to UNBC’s one.
UNBC extended their lead in the 55th minute off a thrilling finish from the Mailman. Henman’s second marker of the night came courtesy of a header from inside the goal mouth area off a superb left-footed high cross feed from Isaac Tate.
That second goal would prove valuable as the defending national champs had a comeback in mind. Five minutes later the Wolfpack answered back with their first goal of the campaign. It came courtesy of defender Dylan Pauw who converted off a Patrick Izett free kick from the left side of the 18-yard box.
From that point on, the Wolfpack controlled the possession providing some nervous moments for the home side. But some plucky collective defending and some timely saves from Daniel Zadravec helped stave off the TRU threats.
In the 89th minute, Alesandro Comita had a golden chance to tie the score for TRU, but Daniel Zadravec put an exclamation point on his night with a diving save to his left.
The final theatrics of the night belonged to the local. With stoppage time winding down, the Wolfpack were awarded a final corner kick. TRU Goalkeeper Olivier Jumeau sprinted the length of the field to join as an extra attacker, but that would prove costly. After Patrick Izett’s corner kick sailed through the crowded penalty area, Timberwolves midfielder Charlie Stewart sent a long ball down the right side of the field. From there, local product Colin Stauffer turned on the jets, won a foot race to the loose ball and seconds later delivered the final dagger into the open TRU net clinching the victory and his first ever Canada West marker.
For his two-goal effort, Michael Henman was named UNBC’s Mr. Mike’s Player of the Game.
Steve Simonson’s crew will now take aim at their second victory in as many tries against TRU when they once again battle the Wolfpack on Sunday at noon at Masich Place Stadium.