By David Song, November 30, 2015 —
Before their Nov. 27 clash with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, the University of Calgary’s men’s hockey team held a mediocre record of 9–11–3. The Dinos knew a well-rounded effort was needed to win against the rival Thunderbirds and that’s exactly what they got on Friday night, prevailing with a 4–0 shutout win.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell was pleased with how his team bounced back from their recent string of subpar performances.
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks, but I thought the guys got refocused,” said Howell. “We made sure we stayed on the right side of the puck, and as a result we had the momentum on our side for the most part.”
Second-year Dinos forward Cain Franson opened the game’s scoring near the end of the first period, beating Thunderbirds netminder Eric Williams with a long-range snapshot on the powerplay. However, UBC pushed back, forcing Stanford to make two quality saves in the final five seconds of the opening period.
The physicality ramped up significantly after that, culminating in a 10-minute misconduct penalty for Thunderbirds defenceman Kyle Becker.
“Physicality really helped set the tone for the game,” said third-year Dinos defender Caylen Walls. “When you start getting the body on their forwards, start turning over pucks and start creating chances for our own forwards, it’s a huge thing and we really prevailed in that area tonight.”
The Dinos added two goals in the second period courtesy of Adam Kambeitz and Dylan Walchuk, as the U of C’s forwards continued to battle hard in front of the Thunderbirds’ net. Franson sealed the deal with an empty-net goal at 19:14 of the third period, earning his second tally of the night.
Despite the team’s offensive success, it was netminder Steven Sanford who reigned as one of the game’s top stars, stopping all 21 of UBC’s shots to record his third shutout of the season.
“It’s always nice to get a shutout,” Stanford said. “Usually when you get a shutout, it means your team’s playing good defence. Everyone’s buying into our system and it took some time, but every day we’re getting better.”
Howell claims the team’s return to defense played a key role in the club’s overall success against UBC.
“It didn’t matter who were going to play, we needed to make sure we came out with a really honest effort,” Howell said. “We got back to skating, and not just skating but sprinting and winning some races. Our goaltending was great. We had some ‘D’ playing forward, and they just kept it simple, moved the puck up the ice. That helped our game — just staying simple.”
UBC was able to even up the season series with a 4–2 victory one night later, giving each club two wins in their four games against each other this year. The Dinos now look ahead to an extended break before they travel to Saskatchewan for a pair of road games against the University of Regina Cougars on Jan. 8–9.