VANCOUVER - Kevin Bieksa and his Buddies are ready to roll and so are the UBC Thunderbirds.
“We'll have three lines and five defencemen,” Bieksa said Tuesday when queried on his lineup for Wednesday night's big charity match at the Doug Mitchell T-Bird Sports Centre.
The game, with a 7 p.m. puck drop, sold out in less than two hours. A crowd of 5,000 will be on hand. Cory Schneider plans to go the distance in net for the Buddies.
“It will be great,” said Schneider, finally able to talk about something other than the NHL's labour problems. “It will be fun to get some fans involved and play in front of the people of Vancouver and raise a lot of money for some great causes. It's not going to have the intensity and physicality of a normal game but I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
The locked out Canucks and T-Birds have skated together a few times in joint practices so Schneider understands the opposition and all their weapons.
“They have already scored on me quite a bit here so they can just add a few more feathers in their cap,” he chuckled. “UBC has been great to us this whole time, skating with us and letting us use their facilities and their gym. They're a good team and they have good players. I think it will be a fun-filled atmosphere.”
The T-Birds, 2-1-1 in Canada West action, plan to dress their entire roster minus the injured. Coach Milan Dragicevic will throw five lines, four blueline pairings and three goaltenders (one per period, of course) at Bieksa's squad.
“It's a once in a lifetime opportunity and a thrill for our players to play against NHL players in front of 5,000 people,” commented Dragicevic. “The proceeds are going to a great cause and we just want to have a fun night for all the fans. Our guys have been talking about this for weeks. Hopefully we can showcase our skill and how good UBC hockey is.”
The game is scheduled to consist of three stop-time periods, a change from the original concept of having running time for the first two periods. The charities that will benefit are Canuck Place, Canucks Autism Network and Canucks Family Education centre.
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