I can't think of a more boring car trip than the drive to Saskatchewan. I have recurring nightmares about having to do the trip more than once a year.
The Dinos men's hockey team lived through something far worse than my nightmare, making the drive two weekends in a row. They managed to survive, playing the University of Regina Cougars and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies. Even with marginal goaltending, the Dinos managed to smack the Cougars on the first weekend, but the Huskies proved too much on the following trip out to the flatland.
"The goaltending was just average at best against Regina," said coach Tim Bothwell. "We held them to 17 shots on Friday and 20 shots on Saturday and still we, were in a real battle."
The game on Friday night had the Dinos up 3-1 after the first, a good sign from the team's recent inability to start games off right.
"We had probably our best first period of the year on Friday," said Bothwell. "We got up 3-1, and really played well."
The Cougars came back, to go up 4-3, but Eric Schneider scored to tie it up, and Matt Holmes popped the go-ahead goal less than a minute later. Regina called a time out immediately, but to no avail. The Dinos put the biscuit in the basket two more times en route to a 7-4 win. Saturday night had the Dinos down 2-1 after a shorthanded goal early in the second, but three unanswered goals by Calgary capped a 4-2 win.
"It was a couple of games that we had to win, and we did," commented Bothwell.
Saskatoon and the U of S Huskies were an entirely different story, with the Huskies dominating 6-4 on Friday and 4-3 on Saturday. The Huskies are definitely one of the top teams in the league this year, while Regina is decidedly not. Bothwell was impressed with many aspects of his team's play. Even though they didn't come out with a win, the weekend wasn't a complete loss.
"It's a pretty good sign that we went into a pretty tough place to play and had a chance to win both games," said Bothwell. "The fact that we got no points at all was pretty disappointing."
Lessons learned from the beating at the hands of the Huskies?
"Some good things were happening, we just have to be a bit more prepared to sacrifice physically, finishing checks, battling harder for 60 minutes," remarked Bothwell. "We're getting closer and closer to that but we're still not at our best, we can still play a lot better."
The University of Manitoba Bisons are making the even more boring drive here next weekend, so they should be well-rested. Manitoba is traditionally a force to be reckoned with and should be quite a challenge for the road-weary Dinos.