Don't let the score sheets and statistics fool you. The University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs dominated the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns, sweeping the Oct. 20-21 home-and-home series, although the scores reflected close contests. The Dinos won 7-6 in Lethbridge Friday night despite being outshot 33-48, and put away the Pronghorns in front of fans at Father David Bauer Saturday night with a 5-4 victory.
The series opened in Lethbridge in a game lacking defence and discipline, as the Dinos edged out the Pronghorns with Dino Luke Hunter's winning goal with less than five minutes left in the game. The Pronghorns made things interesting in the closing minute, when Steve Zmudczynski scored with the extra man on the ice. But the Dinos were able to hang on for the victory, and headed back into Calgary with a series sweep in their sights.
Head coach Scott Atkinson, though proud of his team's determination Friday night, was quick to point out the game could have slipped away in the last minutes of play due to the Dinos' lack of discipline and recovery in the back zone.
"We were up 3-1 and should have gone ahead 4-1, but we took a double minor and that threw us off our game plan," Atkinson said. "Our potential 4-1 lead became a 3-3 draw and we had to tighten up defensively."
Both the Dinos' and Pronghorns' goalies were in top form Saturday night, but Dino Jordan McLaughlin proved to be the better of the two. Both goalies were peppered with hard shots all night, with the Dinos barely
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edging the Pronghorns 35-34 in attempts. McLaughlin was stellar between the pipes, stopping 16 of 18 shots in the third period alone, and 30 of 34 over the course of the game.
"It was nothing really new, last weekend he made 21 saves against Alberta," commented Adam Redmond, a third-year kinesiology major. "He's always there to keep us in the game and give us a chance to win."
After Friday night's poor last-minute play, the Dinos stepped it up on the defensive end, smothering the Pronghorns each time they crossed the blue line. Apart from some questionable penalties, the Dinos were much more disciplined.
"[The team] responded well tonight, and played two periods of solid hockey," described Atkinson. "We made some stupid mistakes, and the score shows that, but we managed to hold on."
Defence and discipline still remain the focus of improvement for the squad but signs of improvement have begun to show, as the Dinos cut their penalty total from 12 on Friday to six Saturday night. The Dinos special teams remain strong, capitalizing on eight of 12 power play opportunities over the weekend series.