While the University of Alberta Golden Bears were busy repeating their ciau championship in Saskatoon last weekend, the young Dinos men's hockey team lost to both the Université de Québec á Trois-Rivieres Patriotes and the champion Bears.
Despite outshooting their opponents in both games, the Dinos failed to connect enough times to win. While staying close to UQTR, the Dinos had trouble getting accustomed to their different style of play.
"It took a while for us to get used to the rink and the new team," said University of Calgary forward Ron Grimard.
The teams traded goals, with UQTR scoring first in the opening period. The Dinos responded promptly with a goal from captain Judd Casper mid-way through the first. UQTR took the lead again with another goal about three minutes later. Eoin Colquhoun scored the lone goal in the second period, giving Mike LaPlante his second assist. Both of Calgary's goals were scored on powerplays. Tied going into the third, UQTR popped the winner with only eight minutes remaining in the game.
UQTR's penalty killers were substantially busier than Calgary's, as the Trois-Rivieres Patriotes racked up five penalties in the second as opposed to the Dinos' two. They also played a significantly different style of play, stifling the Dinos' offence.
"Even though we played hard, it was too much clutch and grab," remarked Grimard. "They try to play a different style of game, they take away the centre of the ice very well, they don't control the puck as much as Edmonton."
The Dinos gave goalie Tyler Nilsson plenty of support, peppering the UQTR net with rubber.
"We still outshot them, but we didn't bury our chances," said Grimard. "It was a little tough playing them, but they got the bounces and we didn't."
Such was the story again against Edmonton. The Dinos fell into more of a "bottomless pit" than a hole, getting down 4-0 before scoring a goal. The Dinos attempted a comeback in the third, with two goals from Colquhoun and Grimard. In the end, it wasn't enough.
"They came out hard, and we went back a little bit," said Grimard. "They buried their chances and we didn't."
Dinos coach Tim Bothwell brought along redshirt goalie Paul Klemke as insurance behind Nilsson. The usual starter, Scott Rideout, was unable to play.
The Dinos went into the tournament as the definite underdog, and as such, were impressed with the closeness of their games.
"We were right there; people thought we were going to get blown over, we could have upset a couple teams if we had gotten a couple bounces," lamented Grimard. He added the Dinos were within striking distance of winning either of the games.
"We could have been in the final," said Grimard. "It's upsetting, but because we have a great team and we're young, I'm excited to see what's going to happen in the next few years. It's a good experience. I think the next time we go [to the ciau championship], we know what we can do. We weren't far away from any team; every game was close."
The U of A defended last year's championship in classic style. The University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds took the Golden Bears into double overtime in the final. Russ Hewson, most likely playing in his final ciau game, scored the winner to cap off an amazing season.