By Mike Flach
The Dinos men’s hockey team bounced back from its losses two weeks ago to the University of Alberta to stomp the Brandon University Bobcats and grab the wildcard spot in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships in Saskatoon. The Dinos soundly put the Brandon Bobcats in their place, winning 4-2 and 7-3 to take the best of three series in two straight.
"I feel that we may have turned a corner in the second game against [University of Alberta.] We really played our hearts out and competed as hard as we could," commented head coach Tim Bothwell. "I think we learned a valuable lesson."
The nailbiter in U of A gave the Dinos the confidence and knowledge that they are a contending team in the upcoming CIAU championships. They proved that this weekend against Brandon.
"I think we realized how close we are to winning; the whole team realized how confident we could be," noted Calgary’s top playoff scorer Ron Grimard.
"We got to a different level: that’s what the playoffs are all about," added Bothwell. "We’ve learned a lesson as a team… not just learned it but we have applied it."
Friday started slowly for Calgary, with Brandon scoring twice in the first. Shortly after Brandon’s first goal Calgary lost forward Trevor Murray on a cross-checking call resulting in a game misconduct. The Bobcats scored one more at 12:50, and the first period ended with 2-0 Brandon lead.
"Brandon came out pretty hard," said Grimard.
Brandon netted the chances they were given, scoring two goals in only five shots in the first. This didn’t discourage the Dinos, though they failed to score with a whopping 18 shots.
"We were still out shooting them," shooting Grimard. "We fell back a little bit, but we didn’t get discouraged and tightened up defensively."
The Dinos regrouped, however, and stormed back in the second and third. John Taggart netted a powerplay goal less than a minute after play resumed for the second period, and the goals just kept on coming. Peter Heal scored short-handed 7:12 into the second, and though Brandon increased the number of shots, Calgary’s young defense and stellar goaltending by Scott Rideout kept the puck out of the net. Dallas Fallscheer scored the game-winner at 5:48 of the third on a pass from center Judd Casper. Grimard popped the insurance goal at 14:08, which ended the scoring for either team. Over the whole game, the Dinos outshot the Bobcats 36-21.
Saturday night showed none of the first period jitters Friday had shown. Calgary stepped up to the plate and put the Bobcats into their lowly place early. The Bobcats proved to be an undisciplined bunch early on, taking three penalties in the first five minutes of play.
The Dinos let the Bobcats play dumb and scored three powerplay goals in the first. Grimard scored a quick goal at 3:22, which was followed by a beauty top-shelf from the side of the net by Kevin Woit. Grimard scored an even goal at 13:00, and Colin Embley put the Dinos up 4-0 on yet another powerplay. The Bobcats salvaged a little dignity out of the first by scoring with 13 seconds left.
Brandon would score two more times, while the Dinos scored three, with Peter Heal, Eoin Colquhoun, and the hat trick from Grimard rounding out the scoring. Grimard was named Canada West player of the week for his outstanding offense over the weekend. He is currently second in the Canada West playoff scoring race.
The Dinos must now prepare for the big show, the CIAU tournament in Saskatoon. They will face teams from New Brunswick, Trois-Rivières, Western Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. With a favourable draw in the tournament, with plenty of rest between games, the Dinos are looking forward to showing their stuff on the national stage.
Bothwell is happy in making it to the tournament. Going in as the underdogs, Bothwell likes his team’s chances of surprising everyone and taking the tournament by storm.
They will start the tournament off against Trois-Rivières on Thursday, and should they win, they will be well rested in their games against some tired Golden Bears.
"We couldn’t have had a better draw, really," said Bothwell. "We easily could have beat U of A two out of the last three times we played them."
Riding on a wave of confidence the Dinos have created for themselves, they hope to have all the pistons firing, especially Grimard and his fellow goal-getters.
"We certainly need them to be in high gear," said Bothwell. "I really believe that the way we are playing right now we have a good chance to win."
"Every line is scoring right now. Hopefully our line and every line will keep contributing," said Grimard.
Grimard noted that the team’s game plan is to play exactly like they did against Brandon, with lots of confidence and intensity.
"Just to play like we did this weekend. Play defensively, move the puck up and keep getting shots."
He hopes to get the jitters out early, score a couple goals and, "hopefully the team will roll from there," he added. "We’ll take what each team has to offer in the first period and then take it to them."