Grinding Manitoba into Bison meat

By Crystal Wong

After a slow start to 2006–losing four games in a row, including a game where they gave up five short-handed goals–the Dinos men’s hockey team desperately needed a win. Fortunately, thanks to “monster performances,” as TSN’s Pierre McGuire would put it, by Alex Lalonde and Brett O’Malley, the team finally found the win column Jan. 27-28 hosting the University of Manitoba Bisons at Father David Bauer Arena.

“We really dominated Saskatchewan in the 6-4 loss,” head coach Scott Atkinson commented on the Jan. 13 game. “But we basically lost that game in 30 seconds. Three short-handed goals in 30 seconds was virtually unheard of before.”

The Dinos fought hard for the win in their first game against the U of M, something they hadn’t done in quite a while. After going up by two goals in the first, it seemed like the Bisons carried the Calgary Flames’ “two-goal lead curse.”

In the second period, Andre Blanchette pulled the Dinos to within one less than five minutes in. Shortly thereafter, forward Jarret Lukin scored a short-handed goal to tie the game. However, the Bisons regained the lead less than a minute later on the same powerplay.

Despite being out-shot 8-12 in the third period, the Dinos dominated scoring. Lalonde netted two goals while Wes Reid added another, with all three coming at even strength. The Bisons had their chances but simply couldn’t get the puck past goaltender Scott Talbot. The goals went unanswered and the 5-3 final score won the Dinos their first regular season game since defeating the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Dec. 2.

Talbot was once again solid in net the second game, allowing just two goals on 38 shots. Drew Campbell opened the scoring for the Dinos with a short-handed goal (yes, another one) and they never looked back. Nine penalties were called in the first period, but neither team could solve the goalies before the first intermission.

After regaining focus, former Calgary Hitman Brett O’Malley scored for the Dinos on a powerplay that carried over from the first. The shots in the second favoured the Dinos 13-10, but the U of M’s Warren McCutcheon scored late in the frame, making up for his penalty that led to the O’Malley goal earlier.

Unfortunately for the Bisons, the Dinos knew they couldn’t afford to lose another game, and it showed. Instead of playing a defensive game by trapping and hoping to keep the lead, the offense continued. O’Malley scored the game-winner, his eighth goal of the season, just a minute into the third.

The Dinos and Bisons each scored a goal, making the score 4-2. This inspired the Bisons to pull their goalie, a plan that backfired when Lalonde put in an empty netter for his third goal of the weekend. This competed the Dinos’ sweep with a score of 5-2.

“Manitoba is a very good team, with great goaltending,” Atkinson said following the game. “We were able to dominate them, but it was still not our best game. I didn’t think we played all that well.”

The Dinos, who were once first in the Mountain Division, have dropped to third behind the University of Alberta Golden Bears and UBC. They have also dropped to a 9-11-2 record and are 14 points behind the division leader. They hit the road to take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Feb. 3-4. Lethbridge is the only team ranked lower than the Dinos in the standings with 10 points. However, the Dinos have had some trouble playing against this team, with a 1-2-1 record so far this season.

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