It may just be the silly season for the men's hockey team, but this September 11 and 12 at the SAIT Eye-Opener there were serious bragging rights on the line. The three collegiate and university teams in the city (Mount Royal, SAIT and the Dinos) compete in the tournament, where coaches and players prepare for the upcoming year and make roster decisions.
If you believe that because no points are on the line and the teams are in a different conference the games don't mean anything, think again. Even though many veteran players watch the games from the stands, each team wants to be known as the best in Calgary, at least for the preseason.
With jobs on the line, it was a big disappointment for the Dinos to come out of the weekend winless and outplayed.
"Our rookies are eager to play and they are really good character guys both on and off the ice," commented veteran forward Phil Barski.
Eager or not, there were very few positives to point to other than nearly erasing a four-goal deficit in the late stages of Friday night's game.
In the game against Mount Royal College on Thurs., Sept. 11, few things went right for the Dinos. Sloppy plays at both ends of the ice and a questionable intensity level haunted the team all night. Late third period goals by Josh Woitas and Jamie Russell did little to improve the look of the scoreboard as the damage had already been done.
"We really just needed to work more on our penalty killing and our special teams in general," explained Barski.
The 6-2 final was humbling, but all the team could do was lick their wounds and prepare for SAIT the next night.
A much better effort was expected from everyone against the Trojans, but after two goals in the first two minutes, it looked like more of the same. A quick goaltending change ensued, but it wasn't enough to kick start the team as they left the ice after 20 minutes, heads bowed, down 4-0.
After appearing to have their feet firmly planted in quick drying concrete for the first half of the game, Barski redirected a pass in front of the net to give the team some much needed energy. The flow of the game changed quickly in the Dinos' favor when Craig Strain scored to make it 5-2 early in the third--the comeback was cued. Ken McKay and Adam Loncan kept the Dinos rolling with markers of their own.
However, the bounces stopped going in and nobody could bury the elusive tying goal, resulting in SAIT squeaking out a 5-4 win.
After a shaky opening weekend, the team is going to have to find a way to play more consistent hockey and be more accountable defensively. Although it was a great effort to almost complete the four-goal comeback, it isn't a position the Dinos want to get used to.
Although disappointed, Barski is confident the team will be ready come regular season.
"We have a great nucleus of vets, and a bunch of rookies with great talent."
It is only preseason, so there's no need to press the panic button. If anything, the losses should give the team some added motivation for the start of the regular season.