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Jordan Walker skating away with the puck and the win against the flightless UBC Thunderbirds.
Ryan May/the Gauntlet

T-Birds walk home with broken wings

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If the 25 minute intermissions and snail speed zamboni were any indication of the excitement of the Dinos men's hockey team's matchup with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Feb. 20-21, what few fans were at the games would have surely stayed home.

Fortunately for the die-hards in attendance, the slow start to the weekend snowballed into a rock solid effort, punctuated by the token shot to the junk of their opponents.

After spotting the T-Birds an early 3-1 lead, the Dinos managed to claw their way back into the game with a late second period marker from Sean Robertson. With that goal the momentum of the game swung like a confused Anne Heche heavily in Calgary's favour. The Dinos took advantage of the tilted ice and tied the game minutes into the third period on a rare goal from blueliner Travis George.

It looked as though Calgary was in complete control until midway through the period, when a Thunderbird forechecker rolled off the halfboards untouched, only to be robbed on a Gumby-like game-saving effort from Dinos puck-stopper Aaron Baker.

The score remained tied until just under a minute remaining, when winger Jordan Walker broke the hearts of the floundering T-Birds by sniping a clutch goal through heavy traffic, beating the surprisingly stellar UBC netminder, Chris Levesque.

The NHL veteran--if one game sweating bullets on the Vancouver Canucks' bench counts as experience--flashed his new gear for most of the night, and kept the game closer than it should have been.

"The guy we have to watch out for next weekend is their goaltender" commented Walker, Friday night's hero. "Levesque has stolen a game from us already this season."Â

Saturday night's game was much less eventful, as the Dinos broke a second intermission tie by notching three goals in the first nine minutes of the third. While UBC would chip into the lead, newcomer Ryan Annesley pounded the final nail in the coffin with an empty-netter late in the game.

Although getting prepared for two meaningless games to close out the schedule may have been tough, the same won't be true for the return playoff match-up with the T-Birds Feb. 27-28. Even though the Birds are considerably less talented on paper, they have played the Dinos close all season long and are foes not to be taken lightly.

"It's going to take a solid effort [against UBC], we can't make the mistake of looking past them," commented the cautiously confident Walker. "They're a confident group coming in after last weekend, and we'll have to be ready."Â

Ready is exactly what the line of Walker, Annesley and Adam Loncan has been ever since it was formed after the Christmas break. Walker knows an important factor to the team's success will be his line providing leadership during the playoffs.

"We get a lot of ice time and we'll be relied on to provide offence, but we have to stay responsible defensively as well," he explained.

There is little argument this team is the most talented squad the school has assembled in recent memory, however, it'll all come done to whether the players have gelled quickly enough to make a serious run at a championship. After a rather impressive showing against the University of Alberta Feb. 13-14, there is a belief forming that this may just be the team to finally accomplish the task of winning their final game of the season.

Here's to hoping.

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