The Huskies growled, the Dinos roared, but after the smoke cleared, each side took a victory and a defeat. The University of Calgary men's hockey team delivered a victory over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night, followed by a defeat the following night. In two incredibly close games, the Dinos proved that they can play with, and beat, the best in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union.
The Huskies' offence was stifled by the stalwart play of the Dinos' defensive core.
"That's definitely something we have to do against them," commented head coach Tim Bothwell. "We generated enough offence for ourselves to do the job too."
With one of the best offences in the league, the Huskies lacked bite last weekend due to Calgary's defence. Considering the offence the Huskies can produce, the Dinos showed diligence in keeping the Mutts to only 39 shots in two games: 17 shots on Friday followed by 19 on Saturday, while the Dinos managed 33 shots each game.
Friday's fast-paced game saw the Dinos get an early 3-0, while the Huskies started the game by being stupid. They took two penalties, a two-minute holding call and a five-minute high-stick, in the first 3:16. The Dinos quickly pounced on the two-man powerplay opportunity presented to them and ripped into the Huskies with a goal by Kevin Woit. The other Calgary goals were scored by Sheldon Nedjelski and Ron Grimard.
The Huskies attempted to start a comeback in the second. Although they controlled the puck for a substantial amount of time, they were unable to produce many shots or goals. They did convert one powerplay into a goal, on a cross-checking call against Mike Laplante at 13:12.
The third period saw the Huskies score early at 4:36, but Calgary's captain Judd Casper put them back in their place, putting the biscuit in the basket at 9:07. The Dinos simply repelled the onslaught of the advancing Huskies, keeping the shots away from goalie Scott Rideout.
U of S managed one final goal just as the buzzer ended the game, leaving the final score 4-3. Rideout played an excellent game on Friday. Although he didn't get many shots, he made the saves when he needed to.
Saturday was another close game, but the Huskies ended up taking a bite out of the Dinos in their second game, 3-0. Despite outshooting the Huskies 33-22, the Dinos failed to score, although their defence kept the U of S to one goal until the third period. The Dinos hit the post once in the second, which could have tied the game and shifted the momentum.
"That would have really helped, and made it 1-1," Bothwell said.
"He didn't quite get the job done for us," said Bothwell of netminder Rideout. "I don't think we'd fault him on any of the goals, two of them were very high-quality scoring chances."
"He has really firmly grasped the number one goaltender," said Bothwell.
In the end, the Dinos proved to both themselves and the rest of the league that they can play with teams like U of S.
"It was just a good game for us, in terms of confidence, and gaining a little bit of respect and credibility," remarked Bothwell. "It was really good to get a win, especially getting close to playoffs."
After playing their hearts out to no avail against the University of Alberta, last weekend has been a boost for the team. Hopefully it will carry them into next weekend, when they play Manitoba.
(Points go to Husky Chad Beagle for his winning smile, despite a noticeable lack of teeth.)