By Еvan Osentоn
They proved that they could crush the patsies from Lethbridge. Last weekend, the University of Calgary women’s hockey team showed they can play with the good teams as well.
A home and home series with the University of Alberta Pandas saw the Dinos emerge tired with the split; both teams won on home ice.
Coach Julie Healy said her squad is suited to the larger ice surface of the Olympic Oval compared to a cramped dungeon such as the U of A’s Clare Drake Arena.
"The advantage of playing here is the ice is quite a bit bigger; we skate well," she said. "When you get into a smaller rink, that’s no longer an advantage."
On Friday, the Dinos used their speed and forechecking to full effect. The teams traded goals in the first period, with Kelly Bechard continuing her early-season tear potting her fourth goal of the year.
Colleen Sostorics added her fourth in the second, and Lorenda Beuker, making her first start in the Dino net, held off the Pandas the rest of the way.
"On Friday we played really well," said Healy. "Although the score was only 2-1, we definitely out scoring-chanced them. We also got great goaltending–like we always get."
Although the team played cohesively, Healy added that the Dinos still need to improve in one-on-one situations.
"We didn’t execute as well on Saturday as individuals. We still played Okay as a team but we lost battles we shouldn’t lose and we made poor decisions with the puck. It was more individual breakdowns than breakdowns as a team."
Saturday’s game in Edmonton saw the Pandas slow down the Dino’s freewheeling style, slashing through the Dino defence with crisp passes and back-check aggressively forcing the Dinos to play dump and chase hockey.
Healy understands what went wrong, citing fatigue and poor decision making.
"I’m looking for us to turn over the puck less, to make better decisions at the offensive blueline, to make sure we gain the offensive zone and create chances off of it," she said. "We didn’t do that well on Saturday. We turned the puck over a lot. I have to attribute this to mental fatigue cause we definitely don’t lack the ability."
Healy also feels the Dinos special teams need work.
"We had two power play goals scored on us. We didn’t get any good scoring chances off the power play until the end."
Healy remains optimistic. Her Dinos are 3-1 and constantly improving. She is especially pleased with the progress of some of her younger players.
"Our experienced players are some of the best in the country. We have great goaltending, and really solid defence."
"Our young players are really catching on quickly. I think we’re going to get way stronger as the season progresses."
Despite Sostorics’ fifth goal of the year and outshooting the Pandas, the Dinos fell to the Pandas 3-1 on Saturday night. Nevertheless, Healy sees this as a blip in the otherwise remarkable progression of this team.
"We did a good job on Friday night and we were successful. Saturday we just didn’t execute properly," she concluded.
Next games are Friday and Saturday against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Both games are at the Olympic Oval at 7:00 p.m.