The University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team is in an excellent position to defend their Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship title in 2013, sitting in first place in the Canada West conference with a 14–3–1 record.
Unsurprisingly, the Dinos Canadian hockey legend Haley Wickenheiser leads the team in points. She collected 23 points despite dressing for only 12 games this season. Having missed some action due to international duties, the Dinos will be glad to have their top scorer in the lineup for the 10 remaining regular season contests. The NHL 13 video game star has been a consistent bright spot for the team since she joined the program three years ago. Her presence on the team has raised the profile and expectations of the women’s hockey program at the U of C, which is in only its fourth year of operation.
That’s not to say the Dinos have been dependent on one player. The team has been powered by performances from plenty of less recognizable names, from Calaine Inglis’s three game-winning goals to goaltender Amanda Tapp’s three shutouts. Fourth-year defence Stephanie Ramsay has been an offensive force on the blue line, leading the team in goals. She’s been a huge threat on the powerplay, where four of her nine goals have come from. While it may be fun to watch Wickenheiser rack up the points in her final year as a Dino, Calgary’s title defence will rest on the team’s ability to come together and play as a unit.
The most crucial test for the Dinos heading into the final stretch will be Jan. 11 and 12 as they head to Saskatchewan to face off against the second place University of Regina Cougars in a double-header. The Cougars sit only three points behind the Dinos and can capture the top spot in the division if they take both games this weekend. In October, the Dinos shut out the Cougars 3–0 and then lost in overtime the next night despite out-shooting the opposition 47–20. A great showing in their upcoming series will give the Dinos some breathing room at the top of the standings with only one road trip to play the University of Alberta Pandas remaining in their regular season schedule.
The Dinos’s battle to defend their championship will begin on Feb. 15 with the start of the CW playoffs. While the team is expected to breeze through their quarterfinal match against a lower ranked team, squads from the U of A, University of British Columbia and the U of R will offer stiff competition in the semifinal and final series. The Dinos have lost a game against each of these three teams so far this year. While they are undoubtedly the favourites to win the conference, the Dinos shouldn’t start booking their hotel rooms for the CIS championship in Toronto before they take care of business out west.
The season has been a resounding success thus far for the Dinos women’s hockey team, but the games that will define their season are just getting started. Top performers and unheralded heroes alike must continue to deliver on a consistent basis starting this weekend and going into the playoffs if the Dinos are to meet their expectations and repeat as CIS champions.