Dayle Poulin and the UBC Thunderbirds did something amazing last weekend -- they skated to the Canada West Universities Athletic Association playoff championship in women's hockey, just one season after finishing with a 1-21-2 record.
Poulin is a Prince George product who fills a forward spot for the Thunderbirds. During the 2012-13 regular schedule, she helped her club to a mark of 17-7-4, which represented the biggest single-season turnaround in the history of Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
The Thunderbirds qualified for the Canada West playoffs as the No. 3 seed and promptly dumped the sixth-ranked Manitoba Bisons 7-2 and 4-1 in a best-of-three quarterfinal series. In the semifinals, also a best-of-three, UBC knocked off the second-seeded Regina Cougars in the maximum number of games. The T-birds lost the opener 2-1 but then prevailed 3-2 in triple overtime and won the series capper 7-1.
In the Canada West final, the Thunderbirds met the defending CIS champions, the Calgary Dinos. On home ice, the Dinos won the first game 4-1 but the T-birds showed their resiliency when they pulled off a 5-4 double-overtime victory in Game 2. In Sunday's deciding contest, UBC won 5-2 and qualified for the CIS nationals, which start today in Toronto.
"This is absolutely unbelievable," UBC coach Graham Thomas said on the school's website. "This is the feel-good story of the year.
"This team is an inspiration," he added. "They epitomize the word 'team.' They believed so much in each other and had one common goal -- to make their university proud, to bring home a banner, and bring respect to the UBC women's hockey program."
The Thunderbirds have been seeded fourth in the six-team national tournament. The Dinos, who have Canadian hockey legend Haley Wickenheiser on their roster, also qualified and are ranked fifth, one spot higher than the host University of Toronto.
The Montreal Carabins have the No. 1 seeding, St. Francis Xavier is No. 2 and Queens is ranked third.
The Thunderbirds will play their first game on Friday against either Toronto or Montreal. Games will continue on Saturday and the champion will be determined on Sunday.
This is UBC's first-ever appearance in the women's hockey nationals.
Poulin is a 22-year-old kinesiology student who is in her fifth and final year of playing eligibility.