In just their third year of existence, the University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team managed to do something no U of C hockey team has done before: win a national championship. For that, they earn the honour of being the Gauntlet’s top team in 2012.
Armed with a star-studded roster of forwards, elite goaltending and solid coaching, the Dinos headed to their first ever Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship in March 2012. The Dinos ended the season by winning 18-consecutive games, including going unbeaten in the CIS playoffs in Edmonton. In the CIS final, the Dinos were powered by a four-point game by Hayley Wickenheiser and defeated the Universite de Montreal Carabins 5–1. Goaltender Amanda Tapp was named the tournament MVP and the Dinos had three players named as tournament all-stars, including Tapp and Wickenheiser.
As the 2012–13 season heads in to the holidays, the Dinos are currently ranked number two in the CIS, with a record of 13–3 and on a five-game winning streak. Currently, the Dinos sit on top of the Canada West conference, three points clear of the second-place University of Regina Cougars. Wickenheiser is off to another terrific start to the season, scoring 19 points in only 10 games, putting her at almost two points per game this season.
The Dinos have built a winning program, gathering top recruits from all over the country and even abroad in the case of Iya Gavrilova, who is from Russia. These recruits will have to restock the cupboards with the Dinos graduating several key players at the end of the 2012–13 season, including forwards Tanya Morgan, Elana Lovell and Erin Davidson and defender Melissa Zubick. However, continued success is the best recruiting tool available and the Dinos women’s hockey team has proven that they will be contenders for the foreseeable future.
What made Dinos women’s hockey special in 2012 was how they dealt with the expectations and pressure of being an elite team. This team was dominant all year long and performed best when it mattered most. The Dinos went 33–4 throughout the 2011–12 season and beat the best teams in the nation on the biggest stage. This is the mark of a great team.
Despite the bitter end to the 2012 season, losing handily on national television to the McMaster University Marauders in the Mitchell Bowl, the Dinos did manage to set a CW record by completing their Drive for Five and winning their fifth-straight Hardy Cup title. Dinos football also had one of their best statistical years in U of C history. The Dinos set single-season records in an astonishing 10 categories, including points, touchdowns, sacks, total offence and completion percentage. The Dinos also will be returning the vast majority of their squad from 2012 into 2013, giving them a head start on Operation Six-Flags? — it’s a working title.
Though it was early in 2012, the Dinos swimming program started the year off with a strong showing at the CIS championships in February with a silver medal for the women’s team and a bronze for the men’s team. On the women’s side, it took a CIS record of 811.5 points to beat the Dinos. The 2012 national title went to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds at the Universite de Montreal pool. Over the past four years, Dinos swimming have won four national championships — both the men’s and women’s programs repeated as champions in 2009–10 and 2010–11. Both the men’s and women’s teams are looking to recapture the CIS title in 2013 and will have home-pool advantage as the CIS championships are being at the U of C.