Don’t look now Timmy, I’m taking Old Yeller out back

There’s a scene many of you might be familiar with in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment where a horse is flogged to death before a crowd of onlookers, including one very impressionable child. It’s a disturbing literary moment, to be sure. Well, that scene was nothing compared to what happened last weekend at the Olympic Oval.

The University of Saskatchewan women’s hockey team waltzed into town Fri., Nov. 24 and handed the Dinos a beating of such severity, it would made Tsarist-era Russians gasp in horror and look away, clawing at their throats. In fact, I hesitate even to describe the results of the weekend series. Those with weak stomachs are advised to skip the rest of this story.

To make a long story short, the Dinos were beaten–are you ready?–10-0 on Fri., Nov. 24 by the Huskies. This defeat included a seven-goal outburst by the U of S in the first period. Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you. The worst part is they allowed–hold onto your seats–91 shots against. That’s, what… three or four games worth? Goalie Tiana Velestuk must be commended for stopping 81 shots, but the defence should hang their heads after this abysmal showing. The offence should plead guilty to a charge of AWOL and report to the brig immediately.

The previous night’s flagellation fresh in their minds, the Dinos had a chance to avenge the loss Sat., Nov. 25. Without a doubt, the Dinos put in a better effort, but still succumbed 7-1 to a slavering Husky squad. The Dinos allowed less goals, less shots against (only 50 this time) and one Dino, Suzanne Hanchar, even managed to put a shot behind U of S keeper Laura Taylor. This was an improvement on the previous night’s effort, but could it have got much worse?

Yes, the Dinos are a young team. Yes, they’ve struggled this year to find their chemistry. But the U of S isn’t a much better team than they are. The Dinos are ranked 1-8-1, the Huskies 2-6. Losing by a combined score of 17-1 to a team now only ranked one place higher than you is pretty rough, especially in your home rink. Even a casual fan has to admit the Dinos are a better team than their recent statistics suggest. So what went wrong?

How about everything?

The Dinos do not play again until January. One hopes Head Coach Kathy Berg puts the team through a number of intensive practices over the Christmas holidays–after all, this is a team with a lot of promise, and one that hosts the national championships in early 2001.

Like the horse in Crime and Punishment, the Dinos were beaten badly. Unlike said horse, the Dinos have a chance to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and stave off a trip to the Elmer’s factory.

In less allegorical terms: There’s still time to turn this season around.

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