By Carly Benson
Six long years of agonizing defeats, heartbreaking ties and overtime losses finally came to an end for the Dinos as they defeated the University of Alberta Golden Bears 6-2 on Sat., Feb. 9. The win snapped a 0-39-6 streak against the Bears that dated back to Feb. 5, 1999.
“It’s about time,” Adam Loncan said, nicely summarizing the release of frustration that has been building for a long time. “[Beating the Bears] is a goal that we set every year. We’ve come so close–with a tie, and an overtime loss–that we know we are right with them. Saturday was our night.”
While Saturday night may have been the Dinos’ time to shine, the win was probably in part due to the humiliating defeat suffered on Fri., Feb. 4. Within about six minutes of the puck drop, the Dinos found themselves down 3-0, and things only continued to snowball from there.
“Most guys had only had one or two shifts,” Wade Davis said, “and suddenly it was 4-0.”
Calgary took 21 penalties in total on the evening, giving the potent Bears’ powerplay plenty of opportunities to inflict heavy damage. The Bears scored four goals with the man advantage, and added another eight, bringing the final score to an overwhelming 12-0.
Not only was this the worst defeat that the Dinos have suffered all year, it was also the most one-sided in Alberta’s 45-game mastery over Calgary.
“I was speechless after the game,” Davis reflected. “Is there one thing that went wrong? No. But there is no excuse.”
“It was the most embarrassing hockey moment for most of the guys,” Loncan added. “The guys just looked in the mirror and saw it was time to do something.”
Whatever they saw in the mirror, the effect was magical. Playing on home ice on Saturday, the Dinos came out strong and broke the scoreless tie five minutes in when Wesley Reid converted a pass from Travis George. Seven minutes later, Gable Gross scored to put the home team up by a pair, as captain Bracken Kearns picked up the assist.
Calgary continued to battle hard through the second period, getting the game-winning goal from Wade Davis, who scored on the man-advantage to give the Dinos a 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, with five minutes left in the middle frame, the Bears finally got on the board with a powerplay marker. But Davis, with his second of the evening, restored the three-goal lead just over a minute later, while Alberta’s Scott Henkelman served a minor for hooking.
Heading into the third period, Calgary showed no signs of slowing down, or letting up. Perhaps the humiliation from the night before still made their blood boil, but whatever the reason, they found a killer instinct and held off an Alberta onslaught during the first half of the final period. Goaltender Donald Choukalos stood tall and kicked out 10 of 11 shots in the last twenty minutes to preserve the lead, stopping 32 of 34 for the evening.
Meanwhile, his teammates helped him out by adding a couple of insurance markers late in the game. Gross notched his second of the night at 16:31, and Drew Campbell put the icing on the cake just a couple minutes later, bringing the final score to a glorious 6-2 victory.
The sweetness of the win is more psychological than anything else.
“Beating them doesn’t make our season a success,” Davis cautioned.
However, it ends the infamous streak, and serves as an excellent “confidence booster.”
“Ultimately, we should beat them, Davis summarized. “We should expect to win. Maybe some of the guys didn’t have that before.”
That advantage could prove huge with the post-season fast approaching, when the Dinos will almost certainly face off against their arch rivals yet again. But before they can look to start a “streak” of their own against the Bears, the Dinos get set to take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Feb. 11-12.
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