Grimard and Co. punish Pronghorns

While most University of Calgary students spent reading week imbibing Wild Turkey by the imperial gallon, the men’s hockey team were slightly more productive, playing two games to close out their regular season and steamrolling through the first two games of Canada West playoff action.

To recap: On Feb. 14 and 16, the Dinos played a home-and-home series against the University of Alberta Golden Bears. While the Bears had already clinched first overall in the Mountain division and home ice advantage throughout the playoffs, any Calgary-Edmonton tilt has all the intensity of a playoff series and this one was no different. Although Calgary played hard in both games, the Bears prevailed 5–2 in Calgary on Valentine’s Day and barely won 4–3 at Clare Drake Arena in Edmonton on Feb. 16.

Were it not for a couple of defensive lapses in game one and the odd bounce here and there in game two, Calgary might have won both games. Regardless, this series was a hard-fought and encouraging end to the Dinos’ season, a year that saw the hockeysaurs finish with a 16–9–1 record and earn a first-round playoff date with the University of Lethbridge.

Speaking of which, the first round went Feb. 22–23 at Father David Bauer Arena. Led by keeper Scott Rideout, Calgary smothered the Pronghorns in game one to the tune of a 5–0 shutout. Calgary forward Ronnie Grimard had his first of two outstanding outings, scoring once and adding two assists in the win. Trevor Segstro contributed two assists in a game that was otherwise marred by a shocking amount of penalties; a whopping 17 to the Dinos and 14 to the ‘Horns. Game two featured a little less animosity and a lot more scoring courtesy of Grimard. The third-year Dino looked a little like Darryl Sittler, scoring two goals and adding five assists to lead the Dinos to a come-from-behind 8–4 drubbing-and for his Herculean efforts, Grimard was named Canada West Player of the Week. Not to be outdone, Jordan Walker added four points, Craig Strain scored two goals and Trevor Segstro contributed three points. Rideout played better than the score suggests, as three of Lethbridge’s goals came on the powerplay.

With Lethbridge dispatched, Calgary now looks forward to the conference semi-finals against the University of Saskatchewan this weekend. The Huskies and Dinos played four times this season; each team won twice and the U of S outscored the U of C 16–13. On the season, the Huskies finished only slightly ahead of the Dinos at 17–8–3 and had a handful more goals for and eight less goals against than Calgary.

The similarities between these two teams don’t end at statistics. Saskatchewan goaltender Steve Nelson played the second highest number of games of any goalie in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport this year-second to Calgary’s Scott Rideout. Both can steal games single-handedly. Both teams play a solid, if unspectacular, defensive game. If the Dinos are superior to the Huskies anywhere, it might be in offensive depth. The Huskies are a fairly one dimensional team-shut down forward Jon "Refrigerator" Barkman, who led the CIS in goals this year with 33 in 28 games-and you shut down their offence.

Calgary, on the other hand, spreads their offence out, boasting the scoring prowess of Ken McKay, Colin Embley, Segstro, Sean Robertson, Lonnie Tetley, Walker and the surging Grimard. The Dinos’ top three defencemen-Dallas Fallscheer, Sheldon Nedjelski, and Mike Muzechka-are better defensively than their Saskatchewan counterparts and have been known to contribute a little offence from time to time as well. Throw in Ian Constable’s and Embley’s forechecking and Josh Woitas’s and Philips Choiniere’s ferocious open-ice hitting, and, well, there’s reason to be optimistic about Calgary’s chances against the Huskies.

Gauntlet prediction: Look for a fast-paced, high-scoring series, with Calgary winning in three.

The series goes Fri., March 1, Sat., March 2 and Sun., March 3 (if necessary) in Saskatoon at the Monsanto Grain-o-Dome.

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