Back from the dead

Although Halloween came and went for another year without incident, the men’s hockeysaurs offence rose from the dead this past weekend. Bypassing the jack o’lantern, they chose to light the goal lamp, 6-3 and 3-1 over the University of Manitoba Bisons. Previously ranked seventh in the country, the Bisons looked anything but top 10 as they were dominated by a Dinos squad with something to prove.

The road-weary Bisons somehow managed to stay in the game Friday night, despite being severely outplayed and outshot for the opening two periods. The Dinos were an offensive explosion waiting to happen, which is exactly what they did, late in the second period and into the third. Four unanswered goals later and the convincing come-from-behind victory was complete.

"We were just a way better team, dominating play at both ends of the ice," stated Head Coach Scott Atkinson boldly. "We have to find a way to score more goals on our chances, but we were resilient and came back."

Although the team needed the comeback to earn two points, it gave them the momentum needed to accomplish something they hadn’t achieved this season–a weekend series sweep.

Saturday’s start was sluggish, but thanks to solid goaltending by first-year man Donald Choukalos, an early lead was established and sustained. The 3-1 win was bolstered by a stellar powerplay which produced five goals over the two games.

Many Dinos had multiple point weekends with Sean Robertson (four assists), Bracken Kearns (two goals, one assist), Sheldon Nedjelski (three assists), and Adam Loncan (two goals) all posting impressive offensive numbers at the Bisons’ expense.

However, the clear-cut offensive star of the weekend, and Canada West Player of the Week, was freshman Richard Mueller. Using his speed to skate circles around the Bison defence, Mueller made them look like they should have been wearing pylon orange.

Mueller, who finished the weekend with three goals and one assist, was praised by Atkinson. A former Calgary Hitman, he is definitely turning heads around the CIS and making people notice—his coaching staff included.

"He’s given us a lot offensively and is learning very quickly how to utilize his speed in this league," the bench boss explained. "He’s just an explosive, game-breaking type player."

For the second straight week, Choukalos got the start in goal for both games, due to a minor injury suffered by starting goalie Aaron Baker. It was hardly a concern to Atkinson, as he has faith in both men in his net tandem.

"Don’s playing very well," Atkinson beamed. "He’s a very good goaltender and he’s given us the option to rest Aaron until he’s completely healthy."

Speaking of health, the team is certainly welcoming the bye week so some of their walking wounded will have a chance to heal.

"It’s been a constant curse for us," said Atkinson when asked about the scary subject of injuries. "Hopefully (Ryley) Layden and (Colin) McRae will be in the lineup for next week. They will really add a lot of offence."

However, Atkinson doesn’t want any of the members of the infirmary to rush things.

"We had McRae try playing a few games earlier in the year but basically it just set him back," he explained. This time we’re going to make sure he’s healthy."

After taking this weekend off, the Dinos will be looking to accomplish another series sweep against another tough prairie opponent. The Nov. 13 and 14 contests against the University of Regina Cougars will go a long way in establishing the Dinos’ place in the CIS top 10.

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