The University of Calgary hockeysaurs headed east to take on the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in a rematch of last year's Canada West Semifinals Feb. 29 to Mar. 1. The Dinos were looking to redeem themselves, after being swept out of the playoffs. Unfortunately, history was due to repeat itself, as the Huskies took the opening game in a 5-3 victory Fri. night and they ended the Dinos comeback season with a 5-2 triumph the following night.
The Dinos entered the matchup with momentum on their side, having downed the University of Regina Cougars in straight victories the weekend before. Not only were the Dinos still well in their winning ways, but the Huskies were potentially too well-rested from two weeks off due to byes. The Dinos were also going to play without offensive powerhouse Jared Aulin, thanks to an injury sustained in their previous series. Nevertheless, the hockeysaurs looked to jump on the rusty Huskies and set the tone for the series.
It was Saskatchewan, however, who got on the board first. Husky Steven Gillen notched a powerplay goal halfway through the first, getting past Dino netminder Jeff Weber through traffic in front of the crease. Teammate Colin Patterson added an even-strength goal minutes later, creating a 0-2 hole for the visiting hockeysaurs. The Dinos were not able to match the Huskies' intensity on the offensive end, as they totaled only six shots in the first period compared to the Huskies' 13. But in the last minutes of the frame, Dino Dan Ehrman tallied his team's first goal. Still, the hockeysaurs had to step it up in the second period if they wanted to extend their season past the weekend and make it to the finals.
Patterson quickly reestablished the Huskies' two-goal lead, as he slipped one past Weber six minutes into the middle frame. The second period was fairly quiet, with each team taking around seven shots. The Dinos could have been more productive as the Huskies were tagged with four penalties in the period, one of which Jevon Desautels was able to convert on thanks to assists by the Annesley brothers. There was only a single goal separating the two teams now, giving the Dinos renewed life in their extended season.
But once again, the Huskies put themselves back up by two very quickly, as Brett Parker scored the first of his two goals in the game. A breakdown by the Huskies late in the period gave the Dinos a chance to get back into contention, as they were up 5-on-3 for 50 seconds. Dino Torrie Wheat scored with under seven minutes to go, bringing his team back within one. The hockeysaurs didn't get any closer, as their pulled goalie resulted in a Parker empty-netter, securing the Huskies win and putting them up 1-0 in the series. The Dinos were faced now with potentially their final game of the season, but it's doubtful that anyone was ready to go home with a pair of losses.
Husky Casey Lee took it upon himself to make sure that the Dinos kept their win total at the Rutherford Arena to zero. The rookie recorded a hat trick and he scored his first goal four minutes into the game on Sat. night while Ryan Annesley was serving two minutes for tripping. Annesley was just about to step back on the ice when Lee found his way past Weber, eradicating the Dinos' well-fought penalty kill.
The second period was all Huskies again, as Brent Twordik and Curtis Austring both scored in the frame, giving the Huskies a 3-0 lead heading into the last period. The Dinos got two powerplays in the middle period, but were only able to generate two shots and no goals.
Dino Reid Jorgensen, who had a huge series the previous weekend, snapped Husky goalie Russel Monette's shutout near the midway point of the third period. Jorgensen's goal gave the Dinos renewed life and intensity and Aaron Richards was able to pull the hockeysaurs to within one after scoring from the point. Suddenly the Huskies were back on their heels, with the Dinos threatening to make things a little bit more interesting.
Lee scored his second goal of the game, quickly ending the Dinos' comeback with a backhander past Weber. The hockeysaurs pulled Weber to give themselves a sixth attacker, but Lee made them pay with his third goal, as he found the back of the empty net. With the final buzzer, the Huskies were off to the CW finals for the second year in a row, whereas the Dinos were headed back to Calgary to clean out their lockers.
Penalties were an issue coming into the series for the Dinos and they were able to address this area in the first game. After taking a couple quick penalties to open Friday's game, the Dinos settled down and took only one more penalty for the rest of the game. The Dinos themselves were able to score twice on their seven opportunitie s, making special teams a strength despite the loss. Saturday night was a different story, as the Dinos only had the man advantage three times, compared to the seven opportunities the hockeysaurs gave the Huskies. This time it was Saskatchewan that converted two of their seven powerplays, ultimately leading to the Dinos' downfall.
The Huskies will be hoping for history to continue its repeat, as they will now visit the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a rematch of last year's CW finals, in which the Huskies pulled off a stunning upset, taking the title for a trip to CIS championships in Moncton.
The Dinos, on the other hand, have a lot to think about for next season. This season started reminiscent of the way they finished the last one, with a string of losses. The main difference was the losses suffered during that streak this season were more contested by the Dinos, with nearly all of the losses coming in overtime. Offensively, the hockeysaurs were able to get those much-needed opportunities with the return of a healthy Wheat and the addition of Aulin. However, more players need to step up on a more consistent basis, with Ryan Annesley completing his last season this year. Tegan Moore and Jorgensen, two rookies, have shown much promise for the Dinos for the 2008-09 year. Hopefully, the dominance displayed by the Dinos in the latter half of the season will characterize the majority of next season and firmly establish the dinos as a true CW and CIS threat.
eason will characterize the majority of next season and firmly establish the Dinos as a true CW and CIS threat.