By Curtis Wolff
Men’s hockey: A-
It was a tale of two seasons for the Dinos men’s hockey team. Over the Christmas break the squad was almost unstoppable. They averaged nearly five goals a game. Their only blemish was an overtime loss to the University of Alberta. The second half of the campaign started well enough with the Dinos going 5–1–1 in their first seven games back. However, it seems the team got complacent with their playoff spot all but wrapped up. The Dinos lost five of their last six games — including a 14–2 drubbing at the University of Saskatchewan and a heartbreaking overtime loss in the Crowchild Classic.
The squad never recovered from their loss of confidence. In the Canada West semi-finals, the second-ranked Dinos barely squeaked by the fourth-ranked Manitoba Bisons in the the third period of the deciding game of the series — a 2–1 overtime thriller.
They faced a red-hot U of A team in the best-of-three finals. After losing 8–1 in the opening game, the Dinos put up a much better fight in game two, but eventually lost to the eventual CIS champions 2–1. While the team could not live up to the high expectations set during its blistering start to the season, second place in the Canada West conference remains an impressive accomplishment.
Women’s hockey: B-
The 2013–14 season was a rebuilding year for the Dinos women’s hockey team. Left without the services of the retired Hayley Wickenheiser and Sochi-bound Iya Gavrilova among others, the Dinos new-look squad had little chance of repeating last year’s dominant performance.
After struggling throughout the first half of the season, while barely hanging on to the sixth and final playoff spot in the Canada West conference, the Dinos rebounded a bit in the new year, posting a 5–6–1 record in 2014 and a +4 goal differential.
The Dinos’s 12–14–2 record was good enough to hold on to sixth place, drawing the third-place University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the first round of the Canada West playoffs. The Dinos put up a fight, but a 3–2 overtime loss in game one followed by a 4–3 loss in game two put an end to their season.
Offensively, the Dinos were led by fourth-year forward Janelle Parent, who scored 22 points in 30 games. No other Dino scored at more than a 0.5 point-per-game pace.
Despite their underwhelming season, the Dinos are in good position to improve for a important 2014–15, as they will be hosting the Canadian interuniversity championship. Rookie goaltender Hayley Dowling posted a sparkling 1.46 goals-against average and a .924 save percentage. She will take over from fifth-year veteran Amanda Tapp next season. Additionally, it appears that Gavrilova will return from her stint with the Russian national team — a recent tweet on her account indicated she is submitting her visa application to return to the Dinos.
Men’s volleyball: B
As hosts of the CIS men’s volleyball championships, the Dinos were guaranteed a place in the tournament. While they had a decent year, compiling a respectable 11–11 record in Canada West play, the Dinos would be in a tough position come playoff time, as they came face-to-face with a couple of powerful squads.
The Dinos drew the 15–7 University of Alberta Golden Bears in the first round of the Canada West playoffs. They lost in straight sets in game one, but only by the minimum allowable two points in each set. In game two the Dinos kept the first set close but narrowly lost. They lost the remaining two sets in a landslide. Despite the series loss, the Dinos proved they could keep the score close against great team.
The Dinos potential for an underdog story almost emerged in the quarter-final, where they gave the second-seeded McMaster Marauders a run for their money.
Fueled by the loud hometown crowd, the Dinos won the first set 26–24 before ultimately running out of gas and falling 3–1.
Outside hitter Greg Mann was their top performer in 2013–14, amassing a team-leading 400.5 points. While the fifth-year will be missed next year, the Dinos will not lose too many players to turnover and should be able to improve on this year’s record if some depth players can step up.
Swim team: A-
The Dinos swim team had another strong season in 2013–14, with both the men’s and women’s squads placing second in the Canada West championships and third in the CIS championships.
The men had a great CIS championship weekend in Toronto with Russell Wood, Bogdan Knezevic and Tristan Cote combining for five individual gold medals. Wood in particular asserted himself as the premier backstroke swimmer in the CIS, winning gold in all three backstroke events. Cote was named Rookie of the Year at nationals after his dominant first-place finish in the 1,500-metre freestyle, while Knezevic won the 200-metre individual medley. The men also won silver in all three relay events.
Fiona Doyle won the only gold medal on the women’s side at nationals, clocking in at a brisk 1:06.27 in the 100-metre breaststroke. Doyle also won two silver medals in the 200-metre and 50-metre breaststroke competitions. Lindsay Delmar had a great meet, capturing three individual bronze medals for the Dinos.
Allison Long and David Woodman were the only fifth-years forced to retire, so the Dinos should come back even stronger next year, although swimming powerhouses University of Toronto and University of British Columbia will not have their national or conference titles stripped away easily. A few new stars in next year’s batch of recruits could be the difference between a title and another second or third-place finish.
Women’s basketball: B
The 2013–14 season was an up-and-down one for the Dinos. After a strong 10–2 start that saw the Dinos in contention for the top spot in the prairie division, they went on a six-game losing streak and just squeaked into the playoffs with a fourth-place finish in the prairie division.
However, the Dinos season did end on a high point. In what would be the last regular season game of her career, captain Tamara Jarrett scored a game-high 23 points while pulling down seven rebounds to defeat the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns 67–53. Jarrett’s final performance was worthy of the rousing tribute given by the pack-the-jack faithful.
The young Dinos showed their inexperience in the playoffs going up against a veteran University of Fraser Valley Cascades. The Dinos were swept by UFV 0–2, and despite being blown out, they gained some valuable playoff experience for the core group.
The Dinos do have some questions going forward to next year. First, with Jarrett retiring, the Dinos are in search of a new leader. Despite this, players like Kristie Sheils and Ashley Hirons provided consistent offensive output throughout the season. Lawrie Saunders also showed much promise by developing assertiveness in the post.
Overall, the Dinos displayed a lot of potential throughout the season. Dinos fans should be excited going forward for a team that is on the rise.
Men’s basketball: C
The 2013–14 season was a disappointing one for the Dinos. They finished fifth in the prairie division and missed playoffs by a whopping 14 points.
One bright spot on the team was the strong play of fifth-year guard Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, who was selected to the CIS second team all-stars. Ogungbemi-Jackson was a definitive crowd pleaser with his wide array of offensive moves. He averaged 20.6 points per game, which was good for fifth amongst the entire league.
The Dinos showed heart throughout the season. However, they were not putting their energy towards productive aspects of the game. They averaged 21.3 fouls per game, which led to easy free-throw shots for the opposition. Halfway through the season the Dinos averaged a ghastly 16.4 turnovers, and at the end of the season they had not managed to improve on this at all.
Like the women’s team, the Dinos do have questions surrounding who will take the leadership reins next season. With the departure of Ogungbemi-Jackson the Dinos will need to find a consistent go-to scorer.
Overall, a 1–12 finish to the season does not bode well for team moral going into next season. The Dinos will have to do some off-season soul searching.