By Еvan Osentоn
To use a tired sports cliché, the Dinos men’s hockey team chewed up the Brandon University Bobcats over the Oct. 15-17 weekend, and spat the resulting bolus all the way back to rural Manitoba.
The Dinos started their season against a shaky Brandon squad that has never placed first in the conference. Nevertheless, the Dinos didn’t take the Bobcats lightly.
"We knew we needed to win," said Dino’s head coach Tim Bothwell. "We’re in for a battle [this
Friday’s season opener started as a close-checking defensive affair. It took a fan getting smacked with an errant Brandon shot before the teams got fired up. Calgary managed to pump 13 shots at Bobcat goalie Colin Ryder before the first period ended.
Dino forward Matt Holmes took a high-sticking penalty 33 seconds into the second period, and the Bobcats capitalized, banging in a rebound off the post–a lucky goal in which Dinos goalie Tyler Nilsson didn’t have a chance. The Dinos responded by forechecking relentlessly, led by the line of Ryan Geremia, Colin Embley and Gavin Hodgson. Less than two minutes later, their efforts were rewarded as Eric Schneider made a brilliant pass to Matt Ganes whose shot beat Ryder to tie the score at one.
After the Bobcats took an undisciplined penalty of their own, Schneider added his first goal at 11:11 of the second. Ganes took a penalty late in the period in response to a semi-legal Bobcat bodycheck, and Brandon knotted the score at two.
In the third, Brandon outshot and outplayed the Dinos, taking advantage of repeated powerplays and an inexperienced Calgary defence. Nilsson stood his ground and kept the game tied, despite several two-on-one situations and shots through traffic.
"We have lots of confidence in Tyler," understated Bothwell. "Our defence is coming along, but we overhandled the puck a bit."
Regulation saw the teams tied and overtime was required. Twenty two seconds into OT, the Dinos won the faceoff back to the point and Dallas Fallscheer’s shot was tipped in by rookie Geremia. The smattering of Dinos faithful went wild.
The game on Saturday started in firewagon fashion. Again, the Dinos got into penalty trouble but showed more poise killing them than on Friday.
Only 9:02 into the first, veteran defender Mike LaPlante scored, but Brandon quickly tied it up. Hodgson added his first of the year to put the Dinos up 2-1.
The Dinos added two more goals in the second, with Ron Grimard and Holmes each netting their first of the year. "I thought [Grimard] played extremely well both nights," said Bothwell. "He played responsible defence."
Although Brandon managed two goals to tie the game early in the third, the Dinos’ resurgent penalty killing and Nilsson’s superb goaltending sent the Bobcats reeling. T he momentum had shifted irreversibly in Calgary’s direction.
The special team’s value in the win was not missed by Bothwell.
"We did a decent job, but we can always do better," he said modestly of the penalty killing.
In the third period, the Dinos stopped humouring the Bobcats and unleashed their terrifying offense. Ryan Geremia reached over the sprawling Ryder to slide in a rebound at 13:02, while Trevor Segstro quickly added a shot that found Ryder’s cavernous five- hole. The Dinos added insult to injury with 3.8 seconds left as Hodgson put yet another goal (his second of the game) through the five-hole.
The final score was a misleading 7-4. Although the Dinos played solid hockey throughout the weekend, it was only at the end of their second game when their immense offensive potential shone through and their defense began to mesh.
Bothwell said he was pleased with the weekend, listing Hodgson, Geremia and Embley as especially impressive and adding he is looking forward to the challenge of the much-improved University of Lethbridge Longhorns on Fri., Oct. 22.