By Jon Roe
In an exciting game that was decided by a shootout, the Dinos men’s hockey team won their first game of the season against the vaunted University of Alberta Golden Bears, and picked up Mark Howell’s first victory as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport coach. The Dinos took a 3-2 decision from the Bears at the Father David Bauer Arena on Friday night.
“For sure you wanna get that out of the way,” says Howell. “Especially beating your former team and all of that makes it feel a little bit more special. It was definitely a good feeling and good for our guys too to understand they can beat an upper echelon team and compete with the best teams in the league.”
Unfortunately, the Dinos were unable to keep their momentum going and after a quick trip up the QE2, lost 9-2 to the Bears in the rematch Saturday night.
There were plenty of positives this weekend for the Dinos. Second-year goaltender Dustin Butler was lights out in Calgary, making 37 saves and keeping the Dinos in the game during the first period while the Bears controlled the play.
“If you’re going to win in this league playing good teams, or anybody, you need good goaltending,” Howell says. “I thought he did a great job. He just stepped up and made big saves, for sure.”
Butler was chased from the net Saturday after allowing two goals on six shots in the first. It continues to be a learning experience for the team’s young d-men as well. The Dinos were outshot 39-28 in the win Friday and 33-26 Saturday. First-years Cory Pritz, Luke Egener, Graham Poutuer and Eric Frere were -2, -3, -3 and -4 respectively Saturday.
“Our blueline’s got some work to do, for sure,” Howell says. “Our whole team does. They’re improving everyday . . . I think, with the coaching staff, having [former NHLer] Cory [Cross] there helps [the d-men]. We’d just like to see them make a little bit simpler plays and not try to complicate things and just build their confidence from there.”
The Dinos have a short turnaround before they take on the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns in a home-at-home that starts Thursday in Lethbridge. The Pronghorns lost both games at the University of Manitoba Bisons last weekend by scores of 3-2 and 4-0. Last year, the Pronghorns finished fourth in the conference with a record of 14-3-0-1 and took five of six games from the Dinos.
“They’re very physical, they get in your face, they try to frustrate you,” says Howell. “Last year, they had lots of success against Calgary so there should be plenty of motivation for us to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”