By Scott Lepp
The University of Calgary’s Men’s Hockey team made a first attempt to follow up last year’s exciting season this weekend. The Dinos finished with a record of 16-9-3 during the 1999/2000 campaign and put on an excellent performance at the CIAU national championships, falling just short in both games.
Calgary played their third pre-season game last Thursday, going head to head with the Mount Royal Cougars at Father David Bauer Arena. There are three words that can sum up the way the Dinos squad performed: physically, fast and sloppy.
The Dinos sent many Cougars flying during the course of the game with mind-numbing body checks. Many Dinos forwards showcased extreme speed and used it to their advantage as a key a factor in many of their goals.
But then there were those few sloppy plays. The Dinos made neutral ice turnovers that turned into goals or opportunities for the Cougars. This is to be expected though. The season is still young and this game was a chance for a lot of the young Dinos players to show Head Coach Tim Bothwell what they can do. They played their hearts out and were in the game until the very end. Unfortunately, when the third-period buzzer rang, the score read 5-4 Cougars.
The opening faceoff went to the Cougars and about 30 seconds into the first period they had their first two-on-one break, but the Dinos displayed good defence by turning the puck aside and into the corner. This was the only break the Cougars would get for awhile as the Dinos played very physically and didn’t let the opposition get any sort of an offensive set up. This physical play would eventually come back to haunt the Dinos as they received back-to-back penalties resulting in a five-on-three advantage for the Cougars. The Cougars took full advantage of this opportunity as a neutral ice turnover was brought into the Dinos zone. A Cougar defenceman fired a slap shot from the point at Dinos starting goalie Tyler Nilsson that was initially saved, but the ensuing rebound landed on the tape of Jason Sexsmith, who banged the puck home for the first goal of the game on the power play at 7:55. The Dinos would finish the first period strong by scoring two power play goals at 10:27 and 13:40. The Dinos goal scorers were Colin Embley and Dallas Fallscheer respectively, with the lone assist coming on Fallscheer’s goal off the stick of Sheldon Nedjelski. After killing a late penalty the first period ended and the Dinos found themselves with the lead 2-1.
The second period started in much the same way the first period ended. The referees blew the whistle at every minor infraction they could see. Most of these calls went against the physical play of the Dinos. The Cougars opened up the second period, scoring on a goal by Adam Loncan that came on a two-on-one at 5:54 of the second period. Dinos goalie Tyler Nilsson had no chance on this goal, even the Dinos defenceman was fooled by the rink-wide pass from Scott Meyerhoff. The Cougars surge didn’t end there as the Dinos found themselves with a man in the box once again. This time it was Jordan Landry who found the back of the net for the Cougars, a power-play goal that came just 50 seconds after Loncan struck.
Just moments later, at 7:08 of the second and following a goalie substitution that put Aaron Baker between the pipes for the Dinos, they found themselves killing yet another penalty. The Dinos cleared their zone and a Cougar defenceman skated down the ice to retrieve it. What he didn’t know is that Scott Fukami had turned on the jets and was chasing him down the ice. Fukami easily passed him and fed the puck to a trailing Mathieu Cusson who one-timed the puck past Cougar goalie Jason Fricker. The goal came short-handed at 8:59 and tied the game at three apiece. The game stayed deadlocked for the rest of the period.
The Dinos came out sloppy in the third period. The Cougars had the puck in the Dinos zone and after three failed attempts to clear, Wyatt Tunnicliffe took a pass in the slot, spun and beat Baker at 2:06 to give the Cougars a 4-3 lead. The Cougars would add another goal at 5:15 of the third on a beautiful breakaway goal by Scott Meyerhoff to put them up 5-3.
Immediately following that goal the Dinos got a power play and they took full advantage of this chance. Ronnie Grimard fired a point shot that was first saved, but Colin Embley alertly pounced on the rebound for his second goal of the game. The goal came at 6:32 and would make it a one-goal game, 5-4. Calgary pulled Baker from the net with 55 seconds remaining for an extra attacker but their hopes went up in smoke when a neutral ice pass went long and into the Cougar zone with only 10 seconds remaining.
This game went down to the wire and could’ve been won by either team.
"We gave them all of their goals," said Dinos Head Coach Tim Bothwell following the game. "We played undisciplined hockey and turned the puck over too many times."
I think our team can challenge for the national championship this year. We’re better in all areas of the game this year."
The Dinos may have lost this pre-season game to the Cougars but the team looks very competitive and shows a lot of hustle. They have high hopes for the upcoming year with the addition of a third goaltender and three more point men. Fans can look forward to another exciting year of Dinos hockey.