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Courtesy Ben Nelms (Far Left), Louie Villanueva (Left), David Moll (Right) and Emilie Medland-Marchen (Far Right)

Four Dinos teams earn spots in the Canada West playoffs

By Emilie Medland-Marchen, February 28 2017 —

Now that the winter semester is almost over, many Dinos teams have entered the playoff season. The Dinos sent four varsity teams to the Canada West quarterfinals this year — men’s basketball, women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and men’s hockey.

Although championship hopes were quickly dashed for the men’s hockey and women’s basketball teams, the Dinos women’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams are still knocking on the door of the
U Sports Championships. The Gauntlet reviewed the playoff season for these four teams and put together our recommendations of upcoming games you won’t want to miss.

Women’s volleyball:

The women’s volleyball team is the underdog of the athletics department this year, earning an impressive 18–6 regular season record — a significant improvement over their 2015–16 14–20 record. The key to the team’s success has been consistency — they began the season with a seven-game win streak that was broken only by last year’s Canada West champions, the Trinity Western University Spartans. The Dinos were guaranteed home-court advantage in the Canada West quarterfinals after double 3–0 wins over the University of Regina Cougars in two games on Feb. 17 and 18.

The Dinos dropped their last two games of the regular season to the first-ranked conference powerhouse University of Alberta Pandas in back-to-back 0–3 games on Feb. 24 and 25.

The Dinos will have a chance to redeem themselves in the Canada West quarterfinals, where they’ll square off against last year’s CIS bronze medallists, the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat. The best-of-three series starts on March. 3 and will take place in the Jack Simpson Gym.

Men’s basketball:

The Dinos men’s basketball team had a lot on their shoulders this season, with hopes of repeating last year’s success and earning another deep playoff run. The team had a 16–4 regular season record, placing them second in the Canada West behind the nearly perfect 19–1 University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. Calgary recently won the Canada West quarterfinals in two narrow wins over the Thompson River University WolfPack on Feb. 24 and 25.

Last season, guard Thomas Cooper was the Canada West regular season offensive leader, earning an average 25.8 points per game. His strength helped push the team to a Canada West championship — and later in the season, a spot in the CIS finals, where the Dinos posted a second-place national finish behind the University Carleton Ravens. The first game of this year’s Canada West quarterfinals will be a repeat of the 2015–16 season, where the Dinos faced off against the University of Manitoba Bisons. After pulling a dominant 100–74 win over the rival Bisons last year, the Dinos hope to repeat history in this season’s matchup. Calgary will take on the Manitoba Bisons on March 3 at 8:00 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gym.

Women’s basketball:

The Dinos women’s basketball team finished lower than they’d like in the Canada West standings this season — but that was no reason to count them out of the playoffs. After being shut out in the Canada West playoffs last year by the University of Regina Cougars, the Dinos were out for blood this season. An 11–9 Canada West regular season record earned them a spot against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades in the Canada West quarterfinals.

After coming out strong in the first game on Feb. 17 with a 67–48 victory, the Dinos couldn’t capitalize on their early success in the best-of-three series. The Cascades put the nail in the coffin of the Dinos’ season on Feb. 19, forcing a tight 69–60 win. The Cascades moved on to the Canada West Final Four, while the Dinos’ 2016–17 season came to an end.

Men’s hockey:

After a stellar 5–4 double-overtime win against the University of Mount Royal Cougars in the Crowchild Classic on Feb. 2 and a triple-overtime clutch win over the UBC Thunderbirds on Feb. 17, the Dinos ran out of gas for the second half of the Canada West playoffs. The team faced off against the U of A Golden Bears on Feb. 24 and 25 in Edmonton — but despite their hard work, the Dinos were one goal short of making the Canada West quarterfinals in both games.

The Dinos had trouble remaining consistent over the course of the year, posting an 18–9–1 record in the regular season. In most games, slow starts in the first period gave the team a lot to make up for in later moments. A considerable amount of overtime play tired out the team for the late season, where they had trouble staving off the No. 6 Golden Bears.

Although dreams of the Canada West championships are over for the Dinos men’s hockey and women’s basketball teams, women’s volleyball and men’s basketball will play on home turf in the Canada West Final Four. Unlike the regular season, entrance to playoff games comes at a small price for students — but with the strength of both teams at their peak, it will definitely be worth the ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the door of all Dinos playoff games.

 

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