Home was the advantage for the University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs, as they hosted the Canada West quarterfinals Feb. 22-23. The Dinos played a solid game en route to a 5-2 victory over the University of Regina Cougars in the opening game, to the delight of fans at the Father David Bauer Arena. The Dinos completed their dominance over the Cougs, holding them off the following night in a scrappy 4-3 win, ending their season.
The Dinos came into the opening game having split their final regular season series with the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns. Having dropped the opening game by a score of 3-4, the Dinos were quick to remind the rest of the Canada West conference, as well as Canadian Interuniversity Sport, of the talent and hard work that resulted in a 14-2 record since late Nov. The hockeysaurs buried the 'Horns 8-2, and headed into the post-season on a winning note. The Cougs, however, were also riding momentum from a similar series split with the University of Manitoba Bisons the previous weekend. Fresh off respective wins, both the Dinos and the Cougars had some tough games ahead.
Dino Aaron Richards, whose play has been reminiscent of his CW athlete of the week days from last season, scored the series' first goal halfway into the opening frame Fri. night, taking advantage of Coug Kyle Deck's holding penalty. Richards' goal was the only one in the first period and the game took on a back-and-forth tone until halfway through the second period.
Neil Kodman put his team on the board with an even-strength goal, and brought the Cougs even with the Dinos, but only for 20 seconds, as Dino Paul Gentile quickly put the Cougs back in their place with a shot that fooled Regina netminder Brant Hilton. Less than 10 seconds later, Dino Reid Jorgenson, who had an impressive series, put some more distance between them and the Cougars as he scored even-strength. Captain Ryan Annesley only had good things to say about the rookie.
"[Jorgensen] was huge for us this weekend," commented Annesley. "He put plays together and found the back of the net for us."
Before the end of the period, Jorgensen continued to make his presence felt on the ice, as he scored his second goal of the night with two and a half minutes left and put the Dinos up 4-1. Richards also assisted both goals. Jorgensen was able to see extra playing time, as he filled in at centre after Jared Aulin was hit by two Regina players in the first period. Aulin didn't return to the game, but the Dinos were able to carry on without him.
The third period saw the teams exchange goals, but the Cougs weren't able to match the Dinos' intensity. They chose to assert themselves by playing dirty, as Cougar Tanner Shultz received a five-minute spearing penalty and a match penalty as punishment for retaliating against Richards' slashing penalty. Not only would Shultz not see ice time on Sat., but he eliminated any chance of a Cougar comeback in the last minutes of the third period.
The Dinos barely outshot the Cougars, but more importantly, limited the Cougars opportunities with the man advantage. Discipline on the defensive end has been a concern for head coach Scott Atkinson and he had nothing but praise for his team's growing maturity.
"We'd been taking unnecessary penalties in the last few games," explained Atkinson. "We needed to smarten up, take the better penalties and avoid the bad ones and we were able to do that tonight."
Saturday night didn't see Aulin's return and the Dinos played hard to avenge him. However, the Dinos took three quick penalties in the first and the Cougs outshot the Dinos 11-3 by the end of the final penalty. That being said, it was the Dinos who headed into the second frame up 2-1, despite the whistle-happy refs.
The second period featured a goal by Dino Torrie Wheat exchanged for Coug Clay Thoring's goal, making the score 3-2. Regina brought the pressure throughout the entire game, but netminder Jeff Weber was able to keep their shots out of the net.
"Weber really stepped up, keeping our morale high," commented Annesley. "Everyone stepped up tonight, especially the defence when the pressure was on."
Dino Travis Friedley--who, along with Aulin and Jorgensen was added to the CW all-star team--scored the game-winning goal at the 8:40 mark in the final period. The Cougs brought intense pressure at the end of the game with their goalie pulled, but the Dinos' D stepped up and put an end to any hopes of a third game for the Cougars.
Having sent the Cougs packing, the Dinos can now turn their attention to the CW semifinals, to take place in Saskatoon's Rutherford Arena Feb. 29 to Mar. 2.
The University of Saskatchewan Huskies, who have enjoyed the last two weeks off due to byes, ended the Dinos' rejuvenated season in the same arena in last year's semis. The hockeysaurs will be looking for redemption, as they only won one of their four meetings this season. The Dinos have the potential to capitalize on the rusty Huskies and pound their defence with lots of quality shots.
"They have a tight defence," explained Atkinson. "If we can keep scoring the way we have and match them in defence, we should come out on top."