While last year saw the University of Calgary's men's hockey team capture a birth in the National Championship, this year's squad has higher expectations, and wants to not only get there, but to win.
"There are no backdoors for us this year; we have to make it on our own" said team captain Judd Casper. "I think we have a really good core this year. We just have to learn to win as a team."
Thus, last Friday at Father David Bauer arena, the hometown Dinos took on the defending National Champions the University of Alberta Golden Bears to start the regular season in hopes of an opening-day win, and began the long road back to the coveted CIAU tournament.
This undergraduate battle of Alberta had no shortage of excitement and quality play. Igniting the Calgary crowd, Casper opened the scoring at the 19:18 minute mark to take the team into the intermission with a 1-0 lead over the Bears.
However, it was only a matter of time before the top-ranked defending champs got on the board. Second period play was all Alberta with two scores on 14 shots while the Dinos only had four shots.
After re-grouping and assessing their situation the Dinos came out in the third frame with new determination. In what is sure to be a bitter rivalry this year, the two teams took to the ice ignited and ready to put two points under the win column. U of C wasted no time tying the affair. After an accurate cross-ice feed Colin Embley forced home a slap shot high on the defending goaltender. The rest of the period contained all the elements of a good hockey game. Highlights included some quality offensive chances by both squads and heavy physical play, especially by Calgary and particularly by Dinos' defenceman Mike Laplante.
Although overtime was unable to produce a winner, the Dinos were happy with the opening day result.
Saturday's action in Edmonton concluded this home-and-home series. Disappointingly, the Dinos weren't able to put together such a quality hockey game. Veteran goaltender, Scott Rideout, candidly talked about his play and the play of his team on Saturday evening.
"I wasn't as sharp as I was on Friday." he said. "We just weren't the same team; we just couldn't get anything generated."
The Golden Bears proved their ability to score by beating the Dinos 5-2. The Dinos are now on the road for the next few weeks but expect them back in action at Father David Bauer in November.