Women’s hockey wins first game in CIS return at UBC

The Dinos proved they belong in university hockey after a successful opening weekend in Vancouver. The University of Calgary women’s hockey team made the move to Canadian Interuniversity Sports competition this year and won their first game 3-1 against the University of British Columbia. They lost their second game 4-1. These games came after a coaching change — the university brought in Olympian Danielle Goyette three years ago to coach the team — and seven years spent playing in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.

A nervous atmosphere dominated the pre-game locker room as the majority of the players had never been in CIS competition and did not know what to expect.

“So many emotions,” says Dinos captain Cait O’Hara. “Excitement, nervousness and uneasiness, not really knowing how it was going to go. We’d never been out to Vancouver as a team and we never travelled that far as a team. It was really, really exiting and we were really anxious to get going.”

The Dinos transferred the nervous energy into a blistering start to the game and managed to get their first CIS win. It was years in the making for the senior players on the team and a confidence booster for everyone.

“Some of us, we have been on this team for four years so we’ve been waiting for that for four years,” says fourth-year player and assistant captain Beccy Niehaus. “It showed that we [deserve] to be in this league and that’s what we had to prove to ourselves. I don’t think we had to prove to other people but we wanted to show that even though we were ACAC we are still a really good team.”

The win begins a period of change for the Dinos as they will be battling universities across western Canada instead of colleges across Alberta. The Dinos dominated opponents in Alberta last year, winning the championship and demonstrating they were ready to make the jump to the big leagues.

“We [are] really excited to be in the CIS,” says O’Hara. “We want to prove that we belong here. Winning ACAC was great and all, it really showed how far we had come. but it’s a whole other step to go into the CIS.”

Though the Dinos will be viewed as underdogs this season, they do not see other teams as unbeatable and believe in their system of hockey and their work ethic and will use these to work towards being one of the best teams in Canada.

“We can outwork any team in the CIS,” says rookie Taylor McLeod.

The Olympic Oval hosts the Dinos home opener this weekend against the nationally eighth-ranked University of Saskatchewan Huskies. On opening weekend, the Huskies dismantled the Lethbridge Pronghorns by scores of 5-1 and 4-1. The Huskiews bring Canada West top scorer Breanne George to the Oval and she will be looking to add to the five points she got versus the Pronghorns. Despite an offence that can score consistently and at any time, the Dinos feel they know the Huskies better than UBC thanks to a preseason tilt in Lethbridge.

“I think we can match up with every team and we showed that in our first tournament,” says Niehaus. The Dinos prevailed 2-1 in a shoot-out against the Huskies in the Lethbridge tournament. “It’s a little bit faster and the intensity is a little bit higher, but we can keep up with any team. As long as we play our systems, we’ll be alright.”

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