The University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs have been racking up the accomplishments as of late, though none were as historic as what they achieved this weekend. Coming off a seven-game winning streak, with a recent nod to Jared Aulin as Canada West and CIS athlete of the week, the Dinos headed into their Jan. 18-19 homestand against the second-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears looking to add more trophies to their shelf. The hockeysaurs kicked off their winning ways with a 5-4 shootout thriller on Fri. night and swept the Bears out into the dirty snow the following night with another 5-4 victory in regulation.
Sweeps between the two teams have favoured the Golden Bears, as the Dinos had not taken their northern opponents in the last 11 years and two weeks. In their Oct. 12-13 meetings this season, the Golden Bears took both games, doubling the Dinos' goals 8 to 4. But this was a Dino team sans Aulin, whose offensive prowess played a major role in the team's turn-around. In addition to the sweep, the hockeysaurs were in pursuit of their program's 599th and 600th all-time wins. The Golden Bears would have their hands full this weekend, as the Dinos had something to prove and a statement to make.
Going into the set, Alberta was on an eleven-game winning streak, having just given the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns a pair of sound beatings in their Jan. 12-13 series. With a strong defence and seemingly impenetrable goaltending, the Golden Bears were a formidable opponent in a true test of the Dinos' skills and abilities.
Alberta's Tim Krymusa opened the scoring with back-to-back powerplay goals, putting the home team in an early two-goal hole on Fri. night. But, unlike last weekend against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, the Dinos didn't let their early deficit get the better of them. Head coach Scott Atkinson was proud of his team for keeping their cool when down in the score and for responding with smart and effective plays.
"We had to work on our composure and consistency, since we got down in the score against [Saskatchewan] unlike in our other eight wins," explained Atkinson. "We showed that we're growing and were able to get back into it."
Dino captain Ryan Annesley put his squad on the board less than two minutes after Krymusa's second goal and Brett O'Malley brought the teams even a couple minutes after that. Aulin, who registered three points on the weekend, assisted both goals. The Dinos were heavily outshot during the period and throughout the game but Dino Torrie Wheat stole the puck in the neutral zone and roofed it behind Alberta netminder Aaron Sorochan to put the hockeysaurs up by one heading into the second period.
The Golden Bears kicked up their intensity in the second frame and hammered Dino goalie Jeff Weber with 16 of their 40 shots on the night. The hockeysaurs, who took half as many shots, found themselves back on their heels as they tried to defend their fragile one-goal lead. They were able to hold off the Bears, but only until the third period. Edmonton's Dylan Stanley made a game of it with his even-strength goal less than a minute into the final frame. Dino Reid Jorgensen put his team ahead less than two minutes later, but with Annesley in the box for a high stick, the Golden Bears were able to tie things up once again off a Harlan Anderson powerplay shot. Overtime solved nothing and the teams headed to a shootout.
"The difference was the powerplay," stated Atkinson. "We gave them too many attempts and we have to be more disciplined. You can't give this team those kinds of opportunities. They'll get you for it."
Dino Kyle Annesley and Golden Bear Ian Macdonald both scored for their squads to open the shootout. After that, both goalies were so solid that it took seven more shooters for the outcome to be decided. It was Dino defenceman Wade Davis, who had missed the last ten games due to injury, who managed to solve Sorochan and give the Dinos their first win over the Golden Bears since last season.
But the Dinos weren't done there: they had a sweep in their sights. Not only was this sweep the first in over a decade, but it also made their 600th win as a program.
"We have to get at them early," explained Atkinson. "If we don't play back on our heels and move the puck better, we can get the wins."
Wheat scored his first of two goals on the night only three minutes into the opening frame on Sat. night, setting the tone early for his team. The Dinos also upped their shots taken, nearly matching the Golden Bears' 36 attempts with their own 32. Scoring throughout the game was a back and forth affair, but the Dinos never trailed.
Golden Bear Derek Ryan was the main reason that his team stayed in the game, as he registered a hat trick on the night. His second goal of the middle frame brought the teams even at three goals apiece, but an Adam Redmond goal put the Dinos back up two minutes into the final period. Ryan completed his hat trick in the last minute of the game with Sorochan pulled, but the Dinos were able to hold on and send the Pandas home after being swept for the second time this season.
The Dinos, who are now 9-1 in their last ten games, have sole possession of third place in the Canada West with their 10-6-4 record and are still ranked 10th overall. This weekend should have been a bye-week for the hockeysaurs, but thanks to a mumps outbreak in which a handful of Dinos were affected, their series against the same Bears was rescheduled. The first of two games will be held this weekend in Edmonton at Clarke Drake Arena, with the finale taking place here in Calgary at the Centennial Arena Feb. 10. Alberta will be hosting the University of Regina Cougars this weekend as well, so hopefully the Dinos can capitalize on some exhaustion and build on their momentum.