By Mike Flach
Well, blondes may have more fun, but they can also kick a little ass. After bleaching the majority of the team’s hair (there are three or four exceptions which should be rectified by this weekend), the Dinos men’s hockey team completed a victory in the first round of the Canada West playoffs against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
The Dinos showed composure, winning a 5-4 nailbiter on Friday, and another close game on Saturday, 5-3.
Friday started off strong for the Dinos as they jumped to a 3-0 lead after two periods. The third period was an entirely different story. The Pronghorns came out flying, and Calgary didn’t adjust in time. After scoring their first goal 3:26 into the period, the Dinos started a procession to the penalty box.
"The first two periods, we had them controlled, playing sound defence," said forward Ronnie Grimard. "Going into the third I think we didn’t weather their storm, they came out with a lot of energy.
"We didn’t do what we were supposed to. We let down a bit and they took control of the play."
The Dinos played undisciplined, and took some needless penalties, which cost goals. Two powerplay goals tied the game, the Dinos unable to turn aside Pronghorns.
"We gave them some life because of that, we killed the first five penalties and then they got three [powerplay goals] in a row," commented Bothwell. "We always seem to be able to kill four or five penalties in a game, but when you get up to six, seven, or eight, you’re always going to give up a powerplay goal or two."
Despite the swarming of the Pronghorns, Grimard broke the tie at 15:12. The Dinos appeared to be taking control again. Appearances can be misleading, however, and Lethbridge tied the game yet again with just over a minute remaining in the third.
It came down to one play. With just over one second left, the Dinos had a faceoff in the Pronghorns’ zone, to the right of goalie John Floyde. Trevor Segstro won the draw and quickly gave it to Grimard, who rifled it into the top shelf, as the buzzer sounded. The Dinos won 5-4 in an intense, heart-stopping game.
Grimard was ecstatic that the play worked, adding that though they try gimmick plays during games, they rarely work. That it worked in this case was terrific.
"I couldn’t believe it worked there. It worked great," said Grimard.
The ‘Horns came out hard again on Saturday, making it close again.
"We played more defensive. We kind of tried to weather the storm again, we knew they were going to come out strong," remarked Grimard. "I think everybody as a team played well, everybody contributed with goals, everybody was scoring."
The Dinos got the jump early in the game, with Trevor Murray scoring 1:23 into the game. Lethbridge tied it up shortly after, and the teams exchanged a goal each to keep the tie. Calgary scored the lone goal in the second, but leading by only one goal, they were reminded of the burst the ‘Horns brought on in the third on Friday.
"We knew what we had to do, we didn’t want to have another close game like Friday night, we just wanted to finish it there and then," said Grimard. "Everybody got behind each other and did it."
"We battled harder, more consistently," said Bothwell. "Lethbridge still intermittently outworked the Dinos for short periods [of time], but this was kept much more under control on Saturday than Friday."
Lethbridge pulled their goalie with 53 seconds remaining, and Gavin Hodgson scored on the empty net to finish the game 5-3.
The team is going to Edmonton on Thursday to prepare for the intense series they expect with the University of Alberta Golden Bears in the wild Clare Drake arena.
"It’s going to be very emotional. It will be packed in there," said Grimard. "The first game is pretty key. I’m just focusing on the first game, and not getting past that."
With the golden locks flowing on the ice, this weekend should be spectacular for the Dinos. Bothwell has yet to get into the bleached-hair club, they team hasn’t quite convinced him to join in.
"Not yet anyway," smiled the coach.