The Dinos men's hockey team's playoff dreams ended in dramatic fashion after losing a best-of-three series against the top seed University of Alberta Golden Bears last weekend. Both games were not short of controversy as the Dinos were forced to play all three of their goalies.
The Dinos lost the opening night match-up against the U of A by a final score of 5-2. At the 18:39 mark of the third period Golden Bear Lee Zalasky collided with Dino goaltender Dustin Butler, was forced to leave the game because of a leg injury. Fifty-three seconds after the initial collision, Dale Mahousky questionably collided with Dino back-up goalie Jeff Weber. Weber responded with some physical play and was given a match penalty and a suspension for his actions.
All odds seemed to be stacked against the Dinos going into Saturday night's must-win match. Both regular season goalies for the Dinos were unable to play, which forced the Dinos to call up their third goalie, Nathan Deobald. Deobald has not seen game action for the Dinos this year. Despite a remarkable performance by the third-string goalie, the Dinos came up short by a final score of 3-1.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell was obviously disappointed with the weekend results, but saw many positives from the weekend moving forward.
"I think we learned a lot about playoff hockey. On Friday night, the right team won. U of A played harder and quicker than we did. I thought Saturday night's game was our best performance against U of A in the past five years."
Dinos defenceman Dan Ehrman, who played his final game as a member of the Dinos last weekend, thought his team challenged U of A but unfortunately came up short.
"We went into Edmonton with a really good game plan. Everyone bought into it. We worked extremely hard and ran into a talented team and gave them a run for their money."
Ehrman praised the work of third-string goaltender Deobald, who in three years with the team had yet to have the opportunity to play a full game.
"Nathan is a guy who works extremely hard in practice, and is one of the more likeable guys on the team," said Ehrman. "His play energized our team, and we wanted to battle for him. I thought his performance was inspirational and we were really disappointed that we couldn't get him a win."
Howell wanted to make changes to the Dinos hockey program when he started as head coach at the beginning of this year. Although the Dinos may not have had the success they were hoping for this season, Howell believes they are heading in the right direction.
"This year has been about a continued evolution and learning curve," he said. "My first goal as a head coach was to change the culture and form an identity required to be a member of the Dinos hockey team. My second goal is the transformation of our team in terms of recruiting. [Recruiting] has been a year-long process, but obviously something I will focus on in the next two months. Our goal is to find players that are still very committed to the game. Hockey is huge in Canada and we really want to strive to be a flagship program for university hockey."
Howell hopes his new recruits, as well as returning players will be successful and create some excitement about the men's hockey team.
"I think hopefully people at the university -- faculty, students and staff -- can get excited about the Dinos hockey team again. We want people to be proud of us and I think we are making steps in the right direction for that to happen."