The new-look Dinos women’s hockey team got an early taste of the challenges they will face this season, losing two games at home to the University of Regina Cougars at Father David Bauer Arena on the weekend of Oct. 5–6.
The Dinos lineup has been completely revamped for 2013–14, as the team has lost nine players — including celebrated women’s hockey superstar Hayley Wickenheiser — and head coach Danielle Goyette to either graduation or Olympic duties.
Both games were close affairs, with the Dinos losing 2–1 in overtime on Saturday after leading for most of the game. On Sunday the Dinos outshot the Cougars 28–15 but fell victim to Regina goaltender Toni Ross, who limited the Dinos to only one goal and backstopped her team to a 3–1 victory.
“It didn’t go as we had hoped,” said captain Sinead Tracey. “But there was definitely good points to take away and something to build off of for sure. There were chances there, we just didn’t capitalize.”
While perhaps the Dinos were unlucky not to come away from the weekend with at least one victory, Dinos interim head coach Kelly Bechard believes that a more consistent effort is required if the Dinos are to be successful this year.
“At times we were dominating and at times we let them have a chance, and I think that was the biggest difference,” said Bechard. “We needed to not give them a chance. That being said I think the bounces just didn’t go in our favour.”
While recognizing that Sunday’s loss could have gone either way, Bechard felt that the outcome of the game was within
her team’s control.
“With a game like that it could easily be 3–3 or we could have gone ahead,” Bechard continued. “Those games happen, but like I said, we have to control what we [can] control and for us that’s effort, which at times was disappointing for me.”
Despite the losses, Bechard was pleased with the performances of several of the players, singling out defender Jayme Clark and forwards Heather Berzins and Jessyka Holt as players who led by example and brought their best effort every shift. She also praised goaltender Amanda Tapp, who made 32 saves on Saturday and was also solid in relief of first-year goaltender Karly MacLeod, who was injured halfway through the game on Sunday.
Tapp is one of the few veterans remaining from last year. The list of missing players is daunting, and includes Wickenheiser, sniper Iya Gavrilova — who is training with the Russian women’s hockey team for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics — forward Tanya Morgan and defender Stephanie Ramsay. All of these players were among the top-20 scorers in Canada West last year.
Bechard says she is not yet sure who will fill the huge skates of these women this year.
“I’m just looking to see who will step up,” said Bechard. “We have a big change-over with our squad from last year and I just think with a big change-over like that you have huge opportunities for girls who want to step up and want to make a difference with this team.”
While Wickenheiser may be the big name that is missing, Tracey recognized that from a leadership perspective a lot of the players from last year will be missed, and it will take a collective effort to fill the void.
“She was a good leader on our team but we had a lot of other good leaders in the room too, so it’s their big shoes to fill,” said Tracey. “Not necessarily [Wickenheiser’s], but everybody who led before me.”
The Dinos hope to capture their first win of the season this weekend, as they are in Vancouver for a two-game series against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds.