For a bunch of likeable, fun-loving guys it was unusual to see them shutout for a whole weekend. For the boys it all started with a Thunderbird defence that was more determined than a Catholic school girl who had just gotten a sermon from the pope. Calgary went into last weekend's Canada West championships at the University of Lethbridge with flair and determination, hoping to pull off an upset against tough teams from the west coast. However, the Dinos dropped a devastating 3-0 decision to the Univesity of British Columbia Thunderbirds in the semis, and lost 1-0 to the host team in the bronze medal game.
We decided to head out to L.A., Lethbridge, Alberta, that is. We wanted to witness the city of glamour, the bright lights of the town that never sleeps, and of course, we wanted to see North America's longest hallway on the U of L campus. We saw all those things, along with exciting Main Street, a water tower of questionable shape and the true meaning of team spirit, exhibited by the University of Calgary Dinos.
On Saturday the guys were in for a tough game. They went to battle with the UBC Thunderbirds and their high hopes were quickly smashed by two quality strikes from Adam Plummer and Steve Dickinson. With only 15 minutes gone by, the Dinos were in a hole, desperately trying to dig their way out. They pressed and they pressed but their luck was running short. Rajiv Mathur's header went a few inches wide and Dinos' leading scorer, and only Canada West all-star, Brian Newmarch was guarded like a national secret. Newmarch couldn't get enough open space to create any of his magic, and UBC keeper Julian Phillips stopped everything that came his way.
UBC iced the game late in the first half when Dickinson scored his second of the game. Dinos keeper Mike Willis made a valiant effort on the ball, but it was a perfectly placed shot and Willis was helpless for the third time that afternoon.
In the second half, the Dinos desperately tried to take the game to UBC. However, the Thunderbird defence held strong, and frustration mounted for the team from Calgary. Dinos tackling turned into something that could kindly be described as clumsy, as the men tested the ideals and limits of fair play. Even the usually squeaky clean Newmarch left a red remainder on the ankle of UBC all-star defender Aaron Richer. The game ended at 3-0, and the Dinos left the field frustrated and looking to console their emotions.
Back at their luxurious downtown hotel (the recently renovated Lethbridge Sandman Inn), the boys were beginning to cope with the loss. Some of the players were quicker to cheer up, but for veterans like fifth-years Willis and Craig White, the pill was a lot harder to swallow. This being the last chance for many Dinos to go to nationals, the men were disappointed their tightly knit group would play their last game together against Leth-bridge the following morning. It would be fair to say that the men took more time that evening celebrating their comradery than preparing for a bronze medal match, which to many is synonymous with making out with a sibling.
The Dinos would go on to lose their game against Lethbridge, but it wasn't for their lack of effort in the contest. The men controlled the tempo of play, but were stopped at every turn by lady luck and the home side's keeper. Lethbridge scored on their only quality chance in the first half, and try as they might, the Dinos could not equalize the match.
Even though the men lost both games in Lethbridge their season was still a success. They improved on thier dismal 2-8-0 showing from last year, battled UBC and ffictoria for the top spot in Canada West all year, and were ranked in the CIAU top 10 for most of the season. But who knows what the winds of change will bring? Maybe harsh cold snow like the blizzard we drove home in on Saturday night. But there is always light at they end of the tunnel, and if the Dinos fortunes drive like a 1998 Subaru Legacy, they will make it home safely with reasonable gas mileage and legroom the likes of which most of us have never seen.