Oops, they did it again.
The University of Calgary men's hockeysaurs have locked up the last playoff spot in the division, but it was a bittersweet success. The Dinos suffered their third straight sweep in the post-secondary Battle of Alberta Feb. 9-10 in a home-and-home series. The University of Alberta Golden Bears took the series opener in front of their home crowd with a 3-2 victory, and clawed their way to a 4-3 shootout triumph the following night at Father David Bauer Arena.
The first period of Friday's game was a flurry of action at both ends of the rink. The Dinos found themselves in the hole early Friday night, with the Bears scoring in the first two minutes of the opening period. Dino Wade Davis, a former Calgary Flames draft pick, tied up the game minutes later off a Conlan Seder feed. The Dinos stunned the Edmonton crowd only 52 seconds later, when captain Brett Thurston put his team in the lead on the odd-man rush. The Dinos headed into the locker room looking well in control of the game, and ready to turn their fortunes around against a team who has had their number for the past decade.
However, the powerplay troubles that have plagued the Dinos over the course of the season re-emerged in the second period. The Bears scored twice on the power play to tie up the game in the first five minutes of the period, and notched the game-winner thanks to Ian McDonald's shot in the dying minutes.
With Friday's loss, the Dinos fell below .500 for the first time this season. The drive south was a cold and sombre one, as the Dinos knew that they had to really kick it into high gear if they wanted to salvage the split, and figure out how to obtain the wins that have eluded them since Jan. 6.
But once again, the Dinos were chasing the Bears from puck drop. The Bears took the lead early in the first period, and were almost up by two goals until the second was overruled due to a dislodged net. The crowd grew restless as the Dinos failed to capitalize on their man-advantages, especially since they chose to keep passing the biscuit instead of shooting it.
The Dinos finally came to life in the second period, dominating the Bears on both ends of the ice. Dino Ryan Annesley tied up the contest by beating Bear netminder Blake Grenier to the rebound, and breathed some life back into his team. Teammate Travis Friedley played a key role on the offensive end, with assists on both Dino goals. The Dinos headed into the final frame with a 2-1 lead, and more importantly, a win in sight.
Unfortunately, the Bears decided that they also wanted to dominate the game for a period. Bear Chad Klassen brought his team even with the hockeysaurs on a powerplay goal halfway through the third period, and team mate Dylan Stanely put the Bears up 3-2 five minutes later.
However, the Dinos had worked too hard to let the Bears steal this game away from them. Thurston, from his knees, scored short-handed with only 56 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at four goals apiece, and send the game into overtime.
Extra time solved nothing, and both goalies stood strong during the first three rounds of the shootout. Dino netminder Scott Talbot was finally beat by McDonald, who broke the Dinos back for the second time with the only successful conversion of the shootout. The loss put the Dinos in the basement of the division, and the fans in a bad mood.
Though the Dinos clinched a playoff spot in the shootout loss, they won't go very far until they figure out how to put together some wins. Calgary fans will get their last chance to see their team in regular season action Feb. 16-17, as they host the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns at Max Bell Arena. The Dinos have owned the 'Horns this season, and hope the trend continues as they desperately need to win, and head into post season action on a high note.
Puck drops at 7 p.m., and admission is free with student ID.