Good news and bad news, Dino hockey fans. The good news is the University of Alberta Golden Bears lost to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Sunday night, bringing an end to their 11-game [8-0-3] unbeaten streak and enabling the Dinos to make up precious, precious ground on their northern rivals. The bad news is the Dinos split their weekend series with the University of Lethbridge, thus ending their own nine game [8-0-1] unbeaten streak. Both the Bears' and the Dinos' defeats were made harder to stomach by the fact they came at the hands of "schools" that, really, have as much in common with Calgary and Alberta as rhesus monkeys have with humans. But that's another story.
Last weekend's series with Lethbridge should have provided Calgary with a moderately challenging warm-up to this weekend's series against the U of A, and perhaps the Dinos were guilty of looking beyond their rural nemeses to the upcoming series against the Bears. After all, Edmonton/Calgary is the most quintessential match-up in sport, that of the blue-collar socialist vs. the oil-soaked capitalist, that of tradition vs. progress, of analog vs. digital, of brute violence vs. fine wines and cheeses. Lethbridge/Calgary is a less-enticing rivalry, but, at 4-2-4, the U of L is a squad that should probably not have been totally overlooked.
The Dinos took control of the Nov. 16 match early. Colin Embley and Sean Robertson continued their solid seasons as both potted first period markers. While Lethbridge managed to tie the game, Ken McKay and Sheldon Nedjelski scored in the second to regain the lead. Dino keeper Scott Rideout turned away a number of decent Pronghorn chances and Lethbridge remained down two going into the third. All hope for a U of L comeback evaporated upon Lonnie Tetley's third period marker, and Calgary cruised to a convincing 5-2 victory.
On Saturday the venue shifted to the U of L Barley-Plex. Home ice seemed to regenerate the Pronghorns and infuriate the Dinos. Calgary took an unusually high number of penalties, and Lethbridge took advantage, scoring three powerplay goals. Calgary managed to close the score to 3-2 on two McKay markers, but the U of L held on and handed the U of C their third loss of the season.
Despite the loss, goaltender Scott Rideout cannot be faulted as he continued the brilliant play that has him ranked first in the
conference in wins. It was Calgary's poor discipline that cost them a game they probably should have won. The Dinos, now 8-3-1, drop to sixth in the nation, second in the Mountain division behind the Bears.
McKay's two goals on Saturday (his 11th and 12th) tie him for the Canada West scoring lead with Alberta's Ryan Wade. Embley, with 22 points, sits third overall in the Conference and Ronnie Grimard is not far behind with 20.
Cancel all your weekend plans:
The aforementioned Bears/Dinos matchup is one not to be missed as first place in the Conference is on the line. Friday's game is in Edmonton, but on Saturday the series shifts to Calgary's Father David Bauer Arena. Come early as seats are often limited for U of A games. Game time is 7 p.m. both nights.