The bridge: blown over

The Dinos men’s hockey team finally has their mojo. And with playoffs approaching, they couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. After struggling against the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns throughout the season, the Dinos went into the enemy’s lair Feb. 3-4 and bagged all four possible points–but not without some close calls.

“We dominated Lethbridge in the previous games. We should have won 8-0, easily,” head coach Scott Atkinson said of the Dinos’ struggle against the Pronghorns. “[Goaltender] Scott Talbot didn’t play well at all. We need more consistent goaltending.”

And Talbot didn’t disappoint his coach on this occasion.

Both teams had their chances in Friday’s game. Although it turned out to be low-scoring, there were 62 shots on net. Luck was on the Dinos’ side early on; Lethbridge had lots of great chances, with three shots hitting the crossbar. Nonetheless, the Dinos escaped the first period without giving up any goals.

The Dinos drew first blood in the second period when Ryan Annesley put home a rebound given up by the ‘Horns’ goalie. The ‘Horns answered less than five minutes later when Calgary native Shaun Norrie put the puck behind Talbot. The Dinos gained some momentum back in the third, out-shooting Lethbridge 8-4, but failed to slip one in as the game went into overtime.

When Lethbridge ran out of gas, Travis Friedley took advantage of a Pronghorn penalty, scoring with a slap shot on a pass from Jarret Lukin, Atkinson’s pick for the team’s MVP, and Paul Gentile. This 2-1 win was a first for the Dinos this season–their two previous overtime contests ended in draws.

“We have good players and play a great game of hockey,” Atkinson commented on the team’s efforts. “But we often struggled to find a way to win.”

The teams went at it again a day later–and there was even less scoring. In fact, it became the lowest scoring game for the Dinos this season. Despite 14 Dinos’ shots in the first period, the game was scoreless after one. Annesley again opened scoring in the second period on a powerplay with only 20 seconds left on the clock.

Before this game, the Dinos had been 6-1 with a lead going into the third. This game continued that trend. With 267 Lethbridge fans in attendance, Talbot shut the door to secure a 1-0 win and his second shutout.

With the win, the Dinos climb back to second place in the mountain division, but won’t be catching up to the University of Alberta Golden Bears, who are 14 points ahead in the top spot in the division and Canada West.

The Dinos battle Gerry Festa and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in Father David Bauer Arena Feb. 10-11. The teams split their previous contest, played in B.C., but there is more on the line this time around as the Thunderbirds are only three points behind the Dinos.

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