By Еvan Osentоn
Was this an anomaly or a preview of darker days to come?
The University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team played its biggest rival last weekend and lost both decisions in the home-and-home clash. Not only did the University of Alberta Pandas win both games, they won the second in a 6-3 rout in front of a largely pro-Alberta crowd at the Olympic Oval.
Talk about a bad way to end the season.
"We just didn’t put three good periods of hockey together for either game," said third-year veteran Nancy Scholz. "In Saturday’s game we had a really good first period and a really good third period and things kind of came apart in the second and that’s when they capitalized."
As a result of their victories, the 11-1 Pandas locked up first place in Canada West and a Þrst-round bye in the playoffs. Calgary, with a record of 9-3 at season’s end, will play the University of Regina in the first round of the Canada West playoffs., which start Feb. 12.
Scholz said if they meet the Pandas again in the playoffs., things will be different, stressing that the U of C is the better team.
"Our strengths lie in our coaching. We have a lot of leadership. We have the best goalies in the West. They have slower defence than us. We definitely have a lot of speed on our forwards. If we put three good periods of hockey together, then we can definitely beat them but we have to come prepared physically and mentally to play a good tournament."
The Dinos aren’t looking past Regina, a team that finished first in the East Division.
"I know Regina is stronger than they have been in previous years," said Scholz. "We have to go into this tournament with a lot of respect for them because we can’t expect to take anything easily."
Defenceman Andrea "Mad Dog" Wojcik agrees with Scholz that Calgary is better than last weekend’s results would indicate and feels the misleading results do not jinx the team’s playoff chances.
"I thought we controlled the majority of the game," she said of Friday’s 3-2 overtime loss. "Our penalty killing was really strong, our powerplay was moving the puck really well, we just didn’t capitalize on any of our shots. We only had four shots in the first period, but we increased them all game. It was just bad luck, a bad play in overtime and they scored."
Wojcik agrees the Dinos are the better team and can’t wait for the opportunity to play the Pandas again in the playoffs.
"Edmonton only has one play–they bounce the puck off the boards into the slot and they just hack away at it," she said. "It was really frustrating for us. Our team can skate like nobody’s business. When we use our skating abilities against other teams, we can tire them out. I think we’ll be able to beat the U of A in the playoffs. if everyone contributes the way they can. If we win our one on one battles and make smart decisions with the puck, we’ll win."
The first obstacle for the Dinos to overcome if they want to avenge their season-ending humiliation at the hands of the Pandas will be to get by the Regina Cougars, ranked seventh in the nation at the end of the season.