The holiday season is bringing some early cheer to the University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs and their fans, as the Dinos continued their winning ways over the weekend. The Dinos took on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns for a home-and-home series Nov. 22-23 and dominated the 'Horns in both contests. Thursday night's series opener saw the Dinos obliterate the 'Horns 7-3 at the Nicholas Sheran Arena and edge them the following night with a 5-3 beating in front of Calgary fans.
The first game kicked off with the 'Horns scoring the only goal of the first period. Their lead only held five minutes into the second period, when the Dinos took control of the game. Dino Jared Aulin continued his impressive debut with the hockeysaurs, tying things up at 1-1. Aulin deked out 'Horn netminder Scott Bowles on a breakaway and finished up by slipping the puck between Bowles' legs. Dino Barry Horman, whose offensive contribution to the team has been immense this season, gave the hockeysaurs the lead with a slap shot beauty only three minutes later on the power play.
The momentum threatened to shift in the home team's favour, as Pronghorn Tyler Stella forced a Dino defenceman to commit a turnover, which Stella put past Dino goalie Jeff Weber. The 'Horns were now within one, but Dino Torrie Wheat put an end to any potential Pronghorn comeback, as he lifted a Brett O'Malley pass behind Bowles to notch the game-winning goal.
The third period saw the 'Horns make another push for a comeback, as Roberts tallied his second goal of the game only four minutes in. By this point, the Dinos had already scored their fifth goal, and the 'Horns were facing a fairly difficult task in trying to fight back against a team that rarely loses when ahead late in the game. Dinos Kyle Annesley and O'Malley added a couple more goals to the hockeysaur total, putting the 'Horns away for good, and the Dinos headed home confident that they would finish the 'Horns off in a similar fashion the following night.
The Dinos kept themselves out of the penalty box for most of the game and only allowed four man-advantages to the 'Horns. However, Lethbridge was able to convert on two of their powerplays, providing the Dinos with an area which to improve for the next game.
Aulin and Annesley continued to find the back of the net Fri. night, scoring two goals apiece. Aulin opened the scoring halfway through the first period, as Dino captain Ryan Annesley tallied his first of three assists on the night. Within the next few minutes, the Dinos had the game well in hand, as the 'Horns suddenly found themselves in a 0-3 hole. The 'Horns got one past Weber before the end of the period, who made 30 saves on the night. Weber has been instrumental in the recent improvement in goaltending, both on and off game ice. Last year, the Dinos only had Scott Talbot at their disposal, but with four possible starting goalies, added depth has made a big difference in the attitude surrounding netminding.
"Weber has an impressive resume and he knows what it takes to win and keep us in the game," commented fourth-year kinesiology major Adam Redmond. "The biggest thing is the competition amongst the goalies, because they know they can't get complacent. They push each other to do better, which is only a good thing."
Kyle Annesley scored the game-winning goal and added some insurance late in the second period. The rest of the game was merely a formality as the Dinos pulled off their fourth straight victory. Hockeysaur special teams were strong that night, as the Dinos were able to convert on three of their ten powerplays and killed off the eight penalties they were tagged with. Dino Travis Friedley also had a big night, with three assists and four total during the series. It looks like the Dinos are hitting their stride and have taken a turn in the right direction as the post-season approaches.
"After our loss in Regina, we had to go back to the drawing board," explained Redmond. "We really had to get back to the mentality of having fun and actually wanting to be out on the ice. It's translated into a more competitive atmosphere. Plus, getting healthy bodies back on the ice has helped a lot."
The hockeysaur's final match-up before winter break against the University of Alberta Golden Bears has been postponed indefinitely due to the recent mumps outbreak at U of C. Six men's hockey team members have been diagnosed with the disease so far.