Hockeysaurs split home and away series

By Derek Neumeier

Forwards Rebecca Niehaus, who had two goals and one assist, and Beth Nerland, with one goal and two assists, led the charge for the Dinos Thu. night, stunning the Queens and handing them their first home loss of the season. Leading 2-1 with little time left to go in the game, the lady hockeysaurs saw the top of the mountain and were mere feet away from reaching its peak, only to lose their balance and slip down an icy slope, surrendering the game-tying goal with just 1:33 remaining and then losing the game in the shootout minutes later. The defeat was a tough pill to swallow not only because the Dinos let the lead slip away late, but also because they were the better team on the evening, out-shooting RDC by a wide 30-17 margin.

“Thursday everything clicked,” commented Niehaus after the loss. “We were getting the puck in the net. RDC is a hard team, but everything seemed a little easier.”

The game started off very well for the U of C as they baffled Red Deer’s offence early on. The Queens, who are the highest scoring team in the ACAC and have the top four individual scorers, were completely overwhelmed by the powerful Dinos defence, being held to seven shots on net and no goals through the first two periods. The Dinos’ offence wasn’t breathtaking in the same amount of time but was good enough to provide their team with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a hard slap shot from the point by defender Kim Maier that found its way through a sea of bodies before it was deflected in the net by forward Lianne Legere.

“We’ve been working a lot on tip-ins,” said Maier, one of 10 rookies on the Dinos roster. “We’re really starting to get pucks to the net.”

Despite their uncharacteristically awful first two periods, Red Deer refused to go down without a fight and came with their heads in the game for the third, creating a very exciting period of hockey. Their top line finally showed its lethality by tying the game up at 1-1 with 8:12 left. The goal appeared to provide a spark for the Queens, but the Dinos were quick to answer, thanks to a shot from leading scorer Ali Webb that blew by RDC goaltender Grace Gaska and resuscitated the U of C lead only two minutes later.

Red Deer’s game strategy turned to panic mode from there as they threw anything and everything at the net to try and tie the game and unfortunately for the Dinos, it worked.

Following a shot on net, a mad scramble ensued for the rebound, in which Queens forward Leanna Wong found the puck. Lying on the ice, she slid a shot towards the net that caught Dinos goalie Katie Urness surprised and out of position, finding the inside of the far post.

Surrendering the lead in the third period–twice–proved to be too demoralizing for the Dinos to handle. The team’s play waned throughout overtime and by the time the shootout came around, the hockeysaurs appeared more than mismatched against the individually powerful RDC players. Jennifer Jubb and Carrie Olsen, respectively ranked first and second in ACAC scoring, made the first two shots for the Queens. Webb did her part offensively, scoring in the second round to keep her team alive, but Gaska robbed Nerland in the third round to seal the fate of the Dinos and complete Red Deer’s revenge for having their perfect home record snapped two nights prior.

With the shootout loss, the Dinos not only missed their chance to pull into second place in the ACAC, but are now five points behind the new first-place team, the Mount Royal College Cougars, who decimated the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks this past weekend. After losing three of their last four games, albeit in shootouts, the Dinos now have a chance to make up for lost points as they face the struggling Ooks this upcoming weekend. The Ooks have only won twice in their 16 games so far this season, but are still a team with the capacity to steal games. The weekend series could prove to be tide-turning for the Dinos as two wins would put the team right back in the hunt for first, but two losses to the lowly Ooks could also end up being the first shovel full of dirt on the grave of the Dinos’ 2007-08 season.

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