Coming off of back-to-back 3-0 victories and heading into their last game of the regular season, the University of Calgary women's hockey team was looking to sweep their season series with the NAIT Ooks and enter the playoffs riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak. However, fate seemed to be against the Dinos Sat., Feb. 12 at Father David Bauer Arena, as nothing seemed to go right and the team wound up on the losing side of a tight 4-3 decision.
Neither team seemed especially ready for the looming playoffs, as sloppy, penalty-filled hockey was the choice of style for both teams. The Ooks maintained a lead for the majority of the game, and despite a determined push in the third period, the Dinos were unable to capitalize on all of their scoring chances.
"It was a tough loss," said Dinos defender Ali Webb. "We're going to take the positives from it and go into the playoffs building off of the good things we did this weekend."
After NAIT opened the scoring early in the first it was Dinos leading scorer Chelsey Morrill who tied it up. Morrill deflected a shot from the blue line past the Ooks netminder, converting on her team's first powerplay of the game.
The game started sliding down a steep hill for the Dinos in the second, after they surrendered the lead early. The Dinos were called for questionable penalties and had two goals disallowed. NAIT was able to feed off of the Dinos' bad fortune and keep the game in their hands. The Ooks extended their lead, scoring two more goals early in the third and causing a goaltending change as Dinos starter Katie Urness was pulled in favour of Vanessa Frederick.
The change seemed to positively spark the Dinos, as they found new legs in the dying minutes. Morrill and Webb scored goals but it came too late, as NAIT clutched to their lead and repelled the Dinos onslaught, squeaking through the remaining seconds without allowing them to tie.
The Dinos were able to once again make use of strong special teams in the game, scoring two of their three goals on the man advantage and stifling all eight Ook opportunities.
"We pay attention to detail more on the penalty kill," said Dinos head coach Dean Holden. "We're second best in the league in that regard."
Despite finishing fifth out of six teams in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, the Dinos still earn a berth in the post-season. The Dinos will face the Mount Royal College Cougars in the opening round in a best-of-three series at Centennial Arena Feb. 16-18. The Dinos managed two wins versus the Cougars during the regular season and a series victory is definitely there for the taking. Even though they head in as the underdogs, the Dinos still show confidence.
"We're still going to head into the playoffs strong," commented Dinos forward Charlotte Chanasyk. "This game didn't bring us down and we'll carry our aggression into the next game."