There was carnage in the air and Cougar steaks on the barbeque, as the University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs roared their way to the top of the Canada West standings, with a sweep of the University of Regina Cougars in their Nov. 3-4 weekend series. The Dinos dominated the opening game with a 3-0 spanking and picked their teeth clean of kitty meat Saturday night with a 5-4 win, but not before five rounds of nerve-wracking shoot-outs. The hockeysaurs played a solid all-around series, matching stellar offensive with a stifling defence the Cougars just couldn't figure out.
If the Cougars had stayed home Friday night, it probably wouldn't have made much of a difference. The Cougars offence was only able to generate 27 shots on net, but still managed to outshoot the Dinos and their 23 shots on the night. The difference, as the Dinos have discovered, lies in effective defensive play and excellent goaltending. Dino net-minder Scott Talbot recorded Canada West's first shut-out of the season, also thanks in part to the Dinos' stranglehold on the Cougar offence. The Dinos were able to effectively cover the back check, and their transition to defence was smooth and strong.
"We've cut down on our goals-against, and our goaltending has been really consistent," commented Adam Redmond, third-year kinesiology. "We have a young defensive core and we are trying to learn as much as we can so that when the second half of the season rolls around, we have a more consistent defensive effort."
Not only have the Dinos dramatically improved their defensive game, but their offence has become more effective, setting up sharp plays and generating shots that sooner or later will find the back of the net. Dinos Aaron Richards and Jarret Lukin especially continue to step up their play with each week. Richards scored the game-winning goal in Friday night's contest, establishing the Dinos' dominance in the first period.
Lukin, last week's Canada West player of the week winner, helped set up the two insurance goals in Friday's game, and scored the crucial fourth goal Saturday night to send the game into extra time. Lukin also leads CW division with 10 points.
The Dinos' series-sweeping victory was a nail-biter, with both teams charging out of the box from puck-drop. The Cougars opened the scoring with a Blair Stengler rocket in the opening five minutes, but Dino Ryan Annesely tied it up with a Lukin pass four minutes later. The Cougars were dominated on the offensive end during the third period, as the Dinos put up 14 shots to the Cougars' eight.
However, the Cougars nearly put the game out of reach with Dustin Bru's goal in the third minute of the final period. The hockeysaurs answered with two goals to tie the game but they could have put the game away before extra time, as four of their shots found either the crossbar or the post in the critical final frame.
Neither team could build nor hold on to their lead, and Lukin's goal sent the game into a scoreless overtime. Dino Daniel Lapointe emerged as the hero, breaking the 1-1 shootout deadlock after four rounds for a 5-4 victory.
"We showed a lot of character going into the third period, and we didn't play up to our true potential [in the first two periods]," described Redmond. "We just dug down deep, talked about the game plan and we came out and executed."