After consistently improving over the first half of the season, the University of Calgary Dinos women's hockey team went into the second half hoping to start the semester off on the right foot by winning their first weekend series, a pair of games against the Grant MacEwan Griffins.
Unfortunately, the time off must have been a bit much for the young Dinos, as the team showed major signs of rust over the weekend, losing both games by wide margins.
After losing 4-1 on the road Fri., Jan. 12, the Dinos were hungry for revenge Sat., Jan. 13 at home at the Olympic Oval. Both teams came roaring out of the gate but it was the Griffins that capitalized first, grabbing a rebound from a scramble and putting it past downed and helpless Dino goalie Vanessa Frederick.
The lead was short lived, however, as the Griffins' goal ignited a fire under the Dinos. Mere minutes later forward Danielle Boyce fired a cannon from the high slot which pinballed off a series of players and found it's way onto the stick of captain Beth Nerland out front, who put it home.
"A big focus for our game was getting pucks on the net," said the veteran Nerland. "The whole team did a good job and we finally got a bounce."
The goal wouldn't be the only one by Nerland on the night, as she fired a seeing-eye slapshot from the wing that found twine with less than one minute left--a powerplay goal that gave the Dinos a 2-1 lead, topping off 20 minutes of ferocious puck control. It was arguably their best period of the season.
The second period saw numerous penalties called against the Dinos, but a strong penalty kill shined through, holding the opposition at bay and giving way to a 2-1 Dinos lead to start the third.
"The first 40 [minutes] we really came out to play," said first-year communications student Bret Seaton. "The first two periods were the best of the season."
With a lead and control of the momentum, the Dinos looked poised to skate away with the victory, but things didn't quite go according to plan. The Griffins came out strong and tied the game early, another rebound goal through a pile of players that Frederick was helpless to stop. With momentum beginning to turn to their side and a powerplay at their fingertips, the Griffins scored another goal similar to the first two not long after, giving them their second lead of the game.
The Dinos' inexperience, coupled with two defenders being out of the lineup, appeared to be too much from there, as the team collapsed defensively and allowed three more goals before the period was through, giving up a total of five in the third, ending the game in a disappointing 6-2 loss.
"It's not what happens, it's how we respond," said an exasperated head coach Dean Holden after the game. "We've got a young team and we have to learn how to stay on the positive edge of consistency."