The men's hockey team knew they were going into hostile territory last weekend. Playing at the Clare Drake arena, home to the University of Alberta Golden Bears, has been no easy task this season, unlike a lot of other teams the Dinos left the rink with two impressive wins.
The Dinos opened scoring in the Jan. 21 game on a goal by Brock Nixon 12:30 into the first period with assists from captain Reid Jorgensen and defenceman Kodie Curran. Curran would go on to have assists on the other two Dinos goals of the game.
"We played well. We got up 2-0 up at U of A, which is they hadn't lost at home yet in regulation," said Dinos men's hockey head coach Mark Howell. "We started well and got up quick."
Torrie Wheat scored a second Dinos goal just 3:55 into the second period to give the Dinos a 2-0 lead. However, the lead would not last with the U of A's Johnny Lazo scoring on the breakaway at 12:43 in the second period and Вen Lindemulder tieing the game up on the power play at 6:14 in the third.
"They came back to go 2-2 and the thing I liked is that we didn't panic," said Howell. "Our guys didn't get rattled on the bench, they just stayed focused and proceeded to play the game plan."
The Dinos remained calm and unphased by the U of A's comeback. Aaron Richards put the puck past Alberta goalie Kurtis Mucha to score the game winner with six minutes remaining in the third period to give the Dinos a 3-2 win.
"It wasn't a real fancy goal, just we threw it to the net, took a little bit of a deflection and went to net," said Howell. "I really liked how we did manage the last six minutes once we did get the lead. It was simple and we played hard and managed to keep the puck down deep and didn't give away any chances."
The following day's game against Alberta was lower scoring, but just as fruitful for the Dinos. The Dinos started slowly allowing the Golden Bears to gain six shots on net before the Dinos had taken one. After the first ten minutes the Dinos came to life. Wheat scored the game's only goal halfway through the second period to give the Dinos a 1-0 lead.
"Saturday night, I thought, was maybe the most complete game we played as a team in the two years I've been here. We only gave up like 21 shots on net against the University of Alberta, that's a pretty low number considering they average about 35-40 shots a game," said Howell. "Probably could've been a three or four nothing game. We missed some glorious chances in the third period to kind of put it away."
The Dinos now sit four points behind the Golden Bears for first place in CW and are ranked ninth in CIS standings.
"We've got a long road to go here yet. There's still six teams in the mix to make it and there's only four that get in [to the playoffs]," said Howell. "We're looking forward at just this weekend, at the U of S and showing that the weekend against U of A we learned and we grew and we're a better team. It's another tough test this weekend."
Dinos goalie Dustin Butler was named Canada West male athlete of the week for his play against the Golden Bears. He allowed just one goal and recorded his second shutout of the year. Butler has the highest goals against average at 1.92 and save percentage at 0.935 in CW.
"It's not just hockey, it's every sport so when someone on your program gets that recognition it's a huge accomplishment and we're very excited for him," said Howell. "We added a goaltending coach in Brad Kirkwood and Brad's been very good with our guys. He's just helped them with some small technical things and their mental mindset and how they approach the game. Dustin looks very focused on how he's playing and what he's doing and as a result he's posted some big numbers."