Flashes of brilliance and hard work, sprinkled with mental lapses, equaled a weekend that had great potential but ended in mediocrity.
Unlike the Kokanee brewmaster, the men's hockey team has yet to find the key to vigilance. The effort was definitely there on the weekend, but defensive breakdowns cost the team two points in the standings.
Things got off to a great start Friday night as the Dinos opened the CIS schedule with a thrilling 4-3 victory over the visiting Huskies from the University of Saskatchewan. Although not a technically sound game by either team, the Dinos dug deep and held onto their third lead of the game to secure a victory in the home opener.
The game wasn't without its share of controversy, however. Only moments after the final buzzer sounded, a Huskies forward charged Dinos netminder Aaron Baker sending him for an unwelcome ride into the goalpost and knocking his helmet flying. A scrum ensued behind the net, but the teams knew they would be seeing each other again the next day, so cooler heads prevailed.
Dinos Head Coach Scott Atkinson wasn't thrilled about the incident.
"That was an aggressive play that was uncalled for after the game was already over."
Strong offensive outputs from newcomer Richard Mueller, captain Sean Robertson and sharp-shooting Ken McKay made up for a couple of timely mistakes which nearly cost the team.
"Friday, we earned the win. It wasn't perfect, but we did enough," said Atkinson about his team's effort.
With Canada West competition stiffer than a shot of Jack Daniel's, Atkinson made no excuses why the team couldn't pull off a pair of wins on the weekend.
"There were two good teams going at it," he conceded. "It's going to be tough to sweep anyone this season."
Tough indeed, as the Dinos couldn't duplicate Friday's outcome a day later as the Huskies managed to pull their dogsleds back to the flatlands with a series split thanks to a 5-4 win.
Saturday's game was quite entertaining from a fan's perspective. It featured numerous lead changes, and midway through the third, the most exciting play in hockey--a penalty shot.
"I pretty much had to read what the goalie was doing, and then I took what he gave me," said fifth-year forward Ken McKay, about his ability to give his team the lead on a penalty shot halfway through the third frame.
Unfortunately the goal didn't stand up, as the Huskies found the back of the net a pair of times before the final buzzer sounded, giving them the come from behind win.
A definite positive out of the weekend was the resurgence of McKay's offence, which had tailed off last season, after a very strong campaign the previous year.
"Obviously it's nice to see him scoring goals again," stated Atkinson. "He had a tough second half last season, after being a top contributor the year before."
"Quick starts come and go," said McKay, downplaying his success. "There's really nothing I did different, the puck just went in the net."
With a little help from McKay's linemates Mueller (four points) and Robertson (three points) opening up the ice, they could become a potent offensive threat as the year wears on.
With the Huskies behind them, the Dinos can now focus on their formidable opponents from the 'Chuk, the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
"In the past there was a tendency to overdo it," said Atkinson of preparing for the Dinos' provincial rivals. "This time we are just going to prepare normally."
We can only hope this approach will work, as a win over the Golden Bears would definitely give everyone an excuse to party this weekend--not like an excuse is really required.
Game one of the home-and-home series goes Fri., Oct. 17 at 7:00 p.m. at Father David Bauer Arena.