A roller coaster-like season for the men's hockey team came to an abrubt end this past weekend when the University of Alberta Golden Bears pummeled the Dinos in two straight games to win the best of three Mountain Division Final and advance to the Conference Final against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
With 7-2 and 5-2 scores in favour of the Golden Bears, they made quick work of their noticably undermatched southern opponents in front of the rabid 3,534 fans who came out to witness the execution.
If there were any bright spots for the Dinos on the weekend it would have to be the play of the team's captain Ken McKay. McKay almost singlehandedly made the feeble Dinos offence tick, netting three of the four Dino goals scored in the series. Jordan Walker also contributed to the cause on Saturday as he assisted on McKay's goal, and added one of his own. However, despite these efforts, this is another disapointing end to a very promising season.
The team was firing on all cylinders early in the season, until it lost its starting netminder Aaron Baker to injury. The loss of Baker seemed to coincide with the team's inability to win games, even though backup Tyler Nillson did an admirable job of stepping up to the challenge. When Baker did return, the team lacked the consistency it carried early in the season. After a very exciting opening round victory over the Lethbridge Pronghorns, the Dinos proved to be little challenge to a very powerful U of A team.
With the Golden Bears advancing to the finals, this marks the seventh consecutive year they have done so and the 26th time in team history.
If the Dinos are to take the next step in the near future and make a serious run for a championship, they will have to find a way to defeat the fuzzy yellow bears. If you can't remember the last time the Dinos pulled off a win against their Edmonchuk rivals, you're not the only one. It has been over four years, and 30 tries since the Dinos last beat the Golden Bears. In fact, I wasn't even old enough to be drinking at the Den to celebrate.
So another season passes by, where the team was close but not quite in the mix to compete for a championship. The team did take major strides in improving their defence and overall work ethic from the year before; however, their special teams will be one area they have to improve upon if they are to make a serious run next season.
For now, the Dinos will just absorb the disappointing defeat, and begin to look forward to the promise of another year.