For the first time in 10 years, the Dinos men's hockey team is heading to the CIS University Cup. The team's playoff dreams became a reality in a close best-of-three semi-final against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies at Father David Bauer last weekend. Both teams clinched a game each, forcing the series to a third game thriller, where the Dinos forced an end to the Huskies season.
The Dinos won the opening Friday night match-up with a final score of 4-2. The Huskies had a one goal lead at the beginning of the third period, however, Dinos forward Jevon Desautels tied it up 8:30 minutes in. Just 19 seconds later, Calgary was one up after forward Aaron Richards caught his own rebound and stuffed it into the net. The final goal of the night came just 10 minutes into the third period off a wrap around from forward Jerrid Sauer. The three quick goals by the Dinos forced Saskatchewan head coach Dave Adolph to call a time out. It wasn't enough, however, and the Huskies were unable to come back from the deficit forcing them into a do-or-die game the next day.
All odds were stacked against the Huskies on Saturday in a must-win match. They came out desperate in the first period, catching an early lead with a goal from captain Kyle Ross after he tipped in a short pass on a power play. The second period saw little action, except a quick Huskies goal through Dinos goaltender Dustin Butler increasing Calgary's deficit to two goals.
The Dinos seemed sloppy through the first 40 minutes of play, but came out strong in the third period. With five minutes remaining in the game, rookie defenceman Kodie Curran had the crowd on their feet after a lobbing goal got by Huskies goalie David Reekie. With Butler out of the net in the final two minutes of the game, the Dinos had a few close chances to tie up the match. Disappointment ensued on the Calgary bench when the Huskies managed an empty netter.
Despite a remarkable performance in the last 20 minutes, the Dinos came up short by a final score of 3-2 after Sauer bought a goal with nine seconds remaining in the game.
Huskies captain Ross said that the game was very even from the beginning, in the tough series.
"We are obviously happy with the outcome," said Ross. "We came out strong, kind of slipped for a little bit, but hung on and that's all we needed. Momentum is so big for these short series, we were able to get some early and cling to that for most of the game."
Dinos captain Reid Jorgensen, who has been with the team since the 2007-2008 season, said that there were definitely moments of the game he wished the team could have back.
"Hockey is about playing hard the full 60 minutes, and for part of the game, the team fell through," said Jorgensen.
Dinos men's hockey head coach Mark Howell was disappointed with the game's sluggish start, but was very optimistic about their chances in the final game.
"We definitely have to be a little more determined in the first period," said Howell. "You have to play really hungry to win in the playoffs. It will be better tomorrow night."
And the Dinos sure did bring their A-game the following night, starting the game off strong. The fist-clenching game finished with a bang, booking the Dinos a spot in the national championship in Fredericton New Brunswick, from Mar. 24-27 and the opportunity to face the University of Alberta Golden Bears for the conference crown next weekend. The Dinos left it all on the ice, ending the season for the Huskies. A short pass from Desautels onto forward Matt Isbister's stick put the Dinos up 2-0 midway through the first period. The final score of 4-1, clinched the win for the Dinos in the best-of-three series.
"We dictated the style of play," said Jorgensen. "Getting pucks, keeping it simple and physical. It's the third game, anything could happen, but you got to play the full 60. It's kind of what we expected from the series, that's playoff hockey. We were out to get them, they were out to get us. They are a good hockey team."
Howell said that it was very exciting for the team to win and hopes that this will be an opportunity for more students and staff to get excited about hockey.