Dinos come up short for hockey pre-season

By Joseph Sandler

The University of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team opened the pre-season in Edmonton last weekend against northern provincial rivals the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a two-game series.

The Golden Bears handed the Dinos a 6-2 loss in the first game on Friday.

Dino forward Brock Nixon said that, despite the score, it was a close game. “We were up 2-1 after the first, tied 2-2 going into the third. [There were] a couple of mental breakdowns– we pulled our goalie late in the game and they got another one.”

In the second game on Saturday, the Dinos were narrowly defeated 3-2 in double overtime.

This is the first year that a new overtime format will be used. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, a five-minute period of four-on-four hockey ensues. If no one claims victory after the first overtime, a five-minute period of three-on-three hockey will delight the fans. If the game still remains unsettled the game goes to a shootout to decide the winner.

After the loss in overtime, Dinos forward Ryan Gillen reflected: “It was a tough one to lose. We were playing with a short bench, I’m surprised how some of the guys’ legs held up.”

Dinos head coach, Canada Interuniversity Sport coach of the year Mark Howell, said the pre-season games are important to mesh as a team and become used to a new system of play.

“We had a solid effort on both nights except for the third period Friday,” he said. “We scored two goals both nights, in this league you need [about] four goals to win.”

Howell, who led the Dinos to the University Cup last year for the first time since 2000, has been with the Dinos since 2009.

The Dinos played with a smaller bench and were defeated twice by the perennial Canada West favourite and defending champion the Golden Bears, who have claimed an incredible 13 titles since the inception of the University Cup in 1963. Howell said Dinos fans can expect “A team they can be proud of, a team with real solid effort– one that never says die.”

Howell advocates consistency and a positive attitude to create a culture of pride instead of “talking the talk.” Fans have plenty to look forward to if Saturday’s game is any indication. The goaltending tandem Jacob DeSerres and Kris Lazaruk split the game and demonstrated Calgary’s depth in goal. Not dressed was 2010-2011 CIS goaltender of the year Dustin Butler.

The Dinos are a veteran-laden team, said defender Canada West first-team all-star defenseman Cory Pritz. “We are a big, physical team that will grind you down. We are going to outwork teams.”

There were several times in Saturday’s game where the Dinos were able to carry the play and create dangerous scoring opportunities.

With a big season ahead of them, the Dinos look to return to the University Cup after two heartbreaking losses in last year’s national championship tournament.

“It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth,” said Pritz, “It still hurts.”

The Dinos will begin the season shorthanded. Pritz and Eisenkirch, who are expected to be key elements in the Dino defence, are both out with injuries. Pritz hopes to return for the season opener.

Also missing from the Dinos line-up are Dylan Hood and Taylor Stefishen, who are away at NHL training camps. Hood is attempting to crack the current defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins while Stefishen is aspiring to play with the Washington Capitals.


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