The University of Calgary Dinosaurs are keeping their heads just above the water.
I'm not referring to the swimming team. I'm referring to the men's hockey team. After splitting last weekend's series in Winnipeg against the University of Manitoba Bisons, the Dinos' record, now stands at 862 which is above .500, but not comfortably so.
Looking at Friday's score, one could come to the conclusion that perhaps the Bisons started the game without the Dinos. In fact, both teams arrived at the rink on time, but the officials showed up half-an-hour late. The late start may have thrown the Dinos off their game, which would explain the 50 Manitoba victory.
"It wasn't a 50 game, really," said Head Coach Tim Bothwell. "It was 10 until late in the second period."
The Dinos managed to keep the game close for almost 35 minutes of play. After the Bisons scored the opening goal, Dinos' goaltender Paul Klemke held them off the scoresheet for most of the second period. With about six minutes left, though, the Bisons notched a powerplay goal to double their lead. When the hosts scored less than a minute into the closing period, the game was sealed.
Led by left wing Eric Schneider's four goals, the Dinos turned the tables with a 73 victory Saturday. Schneider almost wrapped up the game single-handedly, scoring the first three goals of the gamea natural hat trick.
"The first three came bang, bang, bang," explained Schneider. "I was hot, I guess. Everything I shot went in."
Schneider has had a few multi-goal games in his career, which saw him play tier II hockey in Cranbrook and Powell River, and major junior with the Western Hockey League's Tri-City Americans, but this was his first set of quadruplets with the Dinos, for the rookie.
Schneider is looking for more consistency in his game, as are the rest of the Dinos.
"One weekend I'll play really well, then the next one, not so well. Hopefully the rest of the season will be like last weekend," he said.
The Dinos' next games are at the Father David Bauer Arena, against the University of Regina Cougars. While the Dinos are sitting just behind the University of Alberta Golden Bears in second place in the western division of the Canada West conference, the Cougars are, as Bothwell put it "at the bottom of the heap." Still, the Cougars aren't to be laughed at.
"They did beat us once earlier in the season," said Bothwell. "And last weekend they had a 32 loss to Alberta. They're not an easy game for us. We have to play like we did last Saturday. If we think it's going to be easy, then it definitely won't."
With goaltender Scott Rideout coming off an injury to join Klemke and Tyler Nilsson between the pipes, the Dinos are now the envy of the Calgary Flames, with three healthy goaltenders. Bothwell has yet to decide who he'll call upon for Friday's game.
"Rideout looked good at practice. If he's healthy, that puts us in a really good situation. Tyler [Nillson's] coming off a good game and Paul [Klemke] played well on Friday."
One particularly valuable member of the Dinos will be absent from this Friday's lineup. Bothwell will be watching from the stands, serving a one-game suspension that resulted from a verbal altercation with the referee during Saturday's game.
After Dino Don Clipperton was brutally checked from behind without a call from the official, mirroring a hit on Dallas Fallscheer in Friday's game, the entire Dinos' bench rose to argue with the referee. Bothwell was able to quiet his team, but the referee still approached the bench to confront Bothwell.
"He said `You've got to wait for a fucking explanation before you fly off the handle,' said Bothwell." A verbal altercation ensued.
Bothwell isn't proud of the suspension, but says that the point had to be made, considering the viciousness of the hit.
"It's never happened to me before," he said. "I'm embarassed."