As far as first seasons go, Dante Zanatta couldn’t have asked for much more from his UBC Okanagan Heat.
Despite a spirited effort on Friday night in Vancouver, the Heat reluctantly watched their Canada West campaign end in a 3-0 playoff loss to the UBC Thunderbirds.
The Heat men, who made the post-season in its first ever CIS season, earned some much deserved accolades from their head coach.
“As disappointing as it is—I think everyone is a bit gutted— I said to the players that I was very proud of the way they played the whole season, the way they handled themselves,” said Zanatta.
The Heat played well in the first half of the quarterfinal match, but it was the No. 3 T’Birds striking for the only goal at the 38-minute mark.
In the second half, UBC added two more quick scores at 47 and 53 minutes by Navid Mashinchi to put the Heat in a tough spot.
But despite the mountain to climb, the Heat continued their pursuit, taking a total of nine shots, with two being on target.
“Our guys played very well,” Zanatta added. “And even late in the game I was very happy and impressed that they continued to try and play and go forward. At three-nothing in the game they could have packed it in, but they had better scoring chances later in the game.”
Even with his three scores against, Heat keeper Christopher Cuthill made a total of five stops, ending his remarkable season on a high. Along with the injury embattled Enzo Paal, Cuthill was an instrumental figure in the Heat’s road to the playoffs.
Keeping in mind that this was the Heat’s first season in the major league, making it to the big dance was a notable achievement. With a young but talented squad at his disposal, the head coach was definitely pleased with his boys for making it so far in the league.
“The future is bright,” Zanatta said after the match.