Two down, twenty to go. This past weekend, the University of Calgary Dinos women's hockey team started its 2007-08 Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season with a bang, grabbing victories in both games of their opening home-home series versus the MacEwan College Griffins.
The Dinos showed signs of rust in their season opener Friday night in Edmonton, but still managed to edge the Griffins by a 4-3 margin. That completely changed when they hit home ice on Sat., as the lady hockeysaurs controlled every aspect of the game, ripping apart their opponents and picking the bones clean en route to a 3-0 score.
The Dinos had the Griffins panicking all game long, outshooting them 31-13, thanks in large part to a relentless forecheck and good ol' fashioned hard work.
"It's not easy to play two nights in a row, but the girls came out hard Saturday night and kept pushing all game," said Dinos head coach Danielle Goyette. "Our forechecking was great. The scoreboard showed that we were the hungrier team."
It was clear from the drop of the puck that the game was going to be an aggressive affair. Both teams came out firing, exchanging scoring chances to no avail. However, it didn't take MacEwan long to start showing signs of lag, as the Dinos began to control the possession and play midway through the first period.
"All four lines were playing hard," commented second-year social sciences major Caitlin O'Hara. "We were supporting each other, but also winning all the one-on-one puck battles."
Griffins goalie Kanesa Shwetz made some key saves early on against solid Dinos scoring chances and appeared to be building momentum but was deflated late in the second when she was finally beaten by a great heads-up play from defender O'Hara. O'Hara, taking advantage of a MacEwan line change, bolted to the offensive zone calling for the puck and fired a slapper from the high slot with only one opposing defender back. The puck found its way into the back of the net, a power play tally to put the game at 1-0.
The Dinos managed to carry their momentum over to the third period and noticably increase it. It didn't take long to improve their lead when forward Megan Schmidt aggressively blocked a close-range shot from the blueline five minutes in. The shot bounced into the neutral zone and the speedy Schmidt picked up the puck, caught both opposing defenders flat-footed and was off to the races. She deposited the puck perfectly in the top corner, giving her team a 2-0 lead on her second breakaway of the game.
The Dinos added one more to cap off a night of domination, a seeing-eye wrist shot again from O'Hara that found its way in through a maze of bodies, a 5-on-3 power play goal. Starting goalie Katie Urness wasn't tested often, but faced some tough chances and stood tall when she needed to, earning her first shutout of the season.
Schmidt, one of nine rookies on this year's Dinos squad, noted that although the team is relatively inexperienced, she believes that their teamwork and heart will carry the success from the weekend over to the course of the season
"It's really easy to get along with everyone, all of us young players already feel that we fit in," Schmidt said. "The coaches and veterans are helping to make it a smooth transition, and we're all really looking forward to what we know we can accomplish this season."