The University of Calgary men's hockey team finished the regular season on a high note, clinching a Canada West playoff spot by winning both games over the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds last weekend. The Dinos move into third place for now. Both the University of Manitoba (fourth place) and the University of Lethbridge (fifth place) are still in the playoff race with two games remaining.
Only four teams can qualify for the Canada West playoffs. The Dinos, who are guaranteed a playoff spot, will face either the University of Saskatchewan or the University of Alberta after the regular season schedule concludes. Dinos head coach Mark Howell is pleased that his team has secured a playoff position and does not have to rely on other teams to decide their future.
"By winning both games last weekend, we put ourselves in a position where we can control our own destiny," he said. "We are able to practise this week, knowing we are in the playoffs."
The Dinos won their first game of the weekend set Friday night by a score of 3-1. After being scored on 32 seconds into the game, the Dinos came back with three goals. Howell was pleased with his team's resiliency.
"We had a bad first period on Friday, but we were able to come back in the second," said Howell.
In the rematch on Saturday night, UBC again scored first. Just like the game the night before, the Dinos came back, with forward Brett O'Malley scoring with less than two minutes remaining to secure the 3-2 win.
Howell praised a number of his players after the double-win weekend. Among these players was goaltender Dustin Butler, who Howell thought played great in the last four games. Howell was also pleased with O'Malley, Saturday night's hero.
"It was a good weekend for all of our graduating guys. I think Brett is anxious to help his team and accomplish something in the playoffs. I thought that his goal [Saturday] was the most important goal all season. It is good to see a player with character like that be rewarded."
O'Malley was also pleased with his play, as well as the play of his linemates last weekend.
"Our line as a whole, played really well," he said. "Teegan [Moore] scored two goals, which is a positive because I think it is important to get our line going offensively."
With his two points this weekend, O'Malley moves into 19th on the Dinos all-time franchise scoring list.
"I don't usually pay attention to stats, but it is definitely fulfilling and rewarding," he said.
Although O'Malley is happy his team made the playoffs, he will not be content unless they are successful in the playoffs.
"It's not over yet. I think if we can win two rounds and go to nationals, then I will be happy," he said.
"I think every team wants to play in the playoffs," added Howell. "It's everyone's dream and goal, and making the playoffs is a feather on our guys' cap. They bought into a system, and are being rewarded because of it."
The Dinos continue to practise this week, as they wait to see who their first playoff opponent is. For O'Malley, one thing is for sure.
"A season is just a season; we want to win in the playoffs."