Sports

Flu plagues men's hockey team

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For Christmas the University of Calgary men's hockey team is asking for a clean bill of health.

The team is-- for a second year in a row-- stricken with illness, which is part of the reason they went on a six-game losing streak.

The streak ended with 4-1 win over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds last Saturday. Dinos head coach Scott Atkinson said the six-game winning drought is not indicative of their ability.

"I thought that in those six games we deserved to win five times, that's my opinion," he said. "I think that when you're doing things that you believe to be right and you're not being successful, eventually that erodes your confidence."

The weekend split against UBC was misleading, according to Atkinson.

"In our loss at UBC I thought we were better Friday night then we were Saturday night," he said. "We gave up a goal in the first 22 seconds from a miscue and we couldn't score."

Currently sitting in fifth spot in the Canada West standings, the 6-8 Dinos are struggling to find offensive production in the first half of the season.

In several of the Dinos games this year, the losses have been decided in the first or last five minutes of the game. In three of the games during the losing streak, they gave up a goal in the first minute and a half.

"If I was to list off to you what happened during that string it sounds like it's out of a comic book," said Atkinson.

The miscues and shaky starts could be justified by the team getting the flu.

"When we started out against Manitoba, the flu had a big impact there, everyone was really sick and that actually stretched into the next weekend as well," said Atkinson.

Since then the team has lacked mojo and the players the Dinos rely on for offensive output have not shown up.

"All our players we count on to score have had an unbelievably tough quarter of a year," said Atkinson. "Our power play and our top guys are just not scoring and neither is anybody else, so we're trying to get it done with minimal offensive production. Before that we were leading the league in goals for and goals against and [we were] second in power play and PK, so there was really nothing wrong."

Despite the poor performance, the drive and motivation of the players is still present, especially in star forward Torrie Wheat, who sits in third in the Canada West points standings.

"It's always hardest on the players," said Atkinson. "We believe our players are trying their best. Torrie Wheat's a great example, it seems like he's been coughing for a month and a half, he's just not 100 per cent."

The Dinos play a home-and-home series against the Univesity of Lethbridge Pronghorns this weekend before heading into the semester break. Atkinson knows the momentum from two wins will carry through to the new year.

"We think our team is as good as any team, and I mean in the country," he said. "There is no question our goals are a diametric opposition to what's happened in the last six games. We definitely have to use this opportunity to get things on track and try to go on a bit of a run here and take the break to get healthy and make sure we Christmas better than the other teams."

Last year the Dinos team was plagued with the mumps and could not play in December, eventually cancelling several games, including an exhibition against the junior National team.

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