Lucky bounce ends triple overtime

By Chris Pedersen

During the playoffs the bleachers become crammed full of parents, friends and hockey fans, all looking to help the Dinos achieve victory. A boisterous crowd at the Olympic Oval cheered the Dinos to a 4-3 victory over the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday. There were fans dressed in Dinos jerseys, a man with a red wig banging away on a water jug and a lady emphatically ringing a cowbell.

“It makes it fun to play in front of a lot of people who are cheering you on,” said Dinos assistant captain Ali Webb.

The win gave the Dinos a 1-0 lead in the best of five series in the final round of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference playoffs. On Sunday night, the Cougars responded and tied the series, winning 1-0 in triple overtime.

Mount Royal finished last during the regular season and were expected to be pushovers, a team that would hand over the championship on a silver platter. The Cougars didn’t conform to this ideal and brought their A-game to the Dinos.

The Cougars outplayed the Dinos in the first period of game one, making the Dinos look foolish and undisciplined. Mount Royal jumped out to the early lead with two spectacular goals by Chelsey Morrill and Emma Lowry. Morrill got behind the defence on a breakaway and ripped a shot past Dinos netminder Katie Urness. Lowry beat Urness down low on a wrap-around shot.

“I think that at the beginning we fell into the trap that SAIT did,” said Dinos forward Cait O’Hara. “Our first five minutes were very strong, then we got a little cocky and took them for granted. They are not a team that will back down and give up.”

Whatever was said in the dressing rooms during the first intermission worked, as the Dinos overran the Cougars in the second period.

“We knew we could play better,” said Urness. “We just said we had to regroup and bring it all together.”

O’Hara took it upon herself to bring the Dinos back from the edge and on a breakaway attempt she sped through two defenders and ripped a shot which beat Cougars netminder Sarah Oswald.

“I just wanted to get some speed and beat the D,” said O’Hara. “I just picked a spot and made sure that puck went into the net.”

Erin Davidson copied the O’Hara style and on a breakaway of her own took a quick wrist shot which beat Oswald five-hole. The teams entered the second intermission tied at two goals apiece.

The third period was a back and forth affair as the teams were able to score some pretty goals. Mount Royal took their second lead of the game, early in the period, whacking at an Urness rebound until Morrill was able lob the puck behind the Dinos netminder.

“It was a bad rebound and I didn’t play it very well,” said Urness.

The Dinos then started a scrum of their own in front of Oswald and Sinead Tracy benefited from the puck squirting loose from the mess of players and put it into the gaping net, tying the game 3­-3.

Time was winding down in the third and it looked like overtime was a certainty. It was shaping up to be a long evening. In ACAC play, overtime rarely lasts one frame, more often than not going into double and triple overtime.

With five minutes remaining in the period, the Dinos rookie line took to the ice.

Mount Royal had shut the line down the entire game, but once on the ice, Tiara Schoenroth stole the puck and fed a pass to Elana Lovell. Lovell slid the puck through a defender’s leg and went in alone on Oswald. Her quick wrist shot found its way into the top of the net, giving the Dinos a lead they would hold for the rest of the game. The Dinos bench celebrated loudly, hoping this goal would seal the deal for them.

“I’ve never jumped so high in my life,” said O’Hara.

“It was a relief,” said Atkins. “We were all just really happy.”

Veterans O’Hara, Urness, Becky Niehaus and Shannon Davidson carried the game for the Dinos, using their experience to get out of the jam, helping the young players deal with a championship series at the post-secondary level.

“If we can play like a team and everyone plays their role properly, I think we have a good chance to win this,” said O’Hara. “I’m really excited and it’s a good experience for the younger girls to come into this and feel what it is like to be in the finals.”

Game two

Game two of the series was played at Centennial Arena Sunday night and lacked the scoring of the first game, making up for it with an increase in rough play.

Neither team was able to score a goal during regulation play and there were fewer breakaways in game two, as both teams clamped down defensively. It was the body checking that proved to be the source of excitement. Numerous times the girls ran each other along the boards or at centre ice. Forwards streaking into enemy territory were often gang tackled, eliminating the scoring threat.

“They [refs] let us play, which was nice, but they let it get out of hand from time to time,” said Davidson. “And you have to be careful because with girls hockey, it can get pretty chippy and things can go bad pretty fast.”

With the teams tied 0-0 at the end of regulaton, overtime was needed to decide the contest.

Overtime lasted three periods, so long that fans had two intermissions to grab pitchers of beer from the Top Shelf rink bar to soothe their sore throats– hoarse from cheering loudly. Less than two minutes into the third overtime, Mount Royal got a lucky bounce and tied the series. Cougars forward Madison Oulette won a face-off in the Dinos zone, and on a quick shot caught Urness standing– beating her five-hole.

“When it gets that far into the game, a lucky bounce can win it,” said Webb. “I would say we played with them the whole time and outplayed them, too, I would say.”

The teams have a week off before the series resumes Friday. It now comes down to whoever can win two games first.

“[We] will just regroup and go through our week as usual,” said Webb. “Practice hard and come back on Friday and forget about it.”

“Both teams showed up and battled hard,” said Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette. “At the same time, it is 1-1 and every time you go into the finals it is never easy games.”

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