One has to feel some pity for Felis concolor, the common cougar found across much of Western North America. Nearly eradicated in the 19th century by hunters and farmers, its comeback in the mid-to-late 20th century was marred by the emerging double meaning of "cougar" as any sexually lecherous middle-aged bar-going human being.
It is thus with some begrudging acceptance that Dino fans must bear the news that their beloved hockeysaurs split their Jan. 23--24 series with the University of Regina Cougars. Calgary soundly thumped their promiscuous dustbowl rivals in two previous meetings this year (5--2 and 6--4 way back on Nov. 2 and 3), but Regina went into last weekend's series with a sort of sluttish self-confidence, having lost only four of their last 10 games and only once at home all season. Meanwhile, Calgary has struggled of late, their offence has been flaccid, their defence frigid and their confidence in tatters.
Reassuringly, the Dinos came out confident on Friday night, showing early-season form-scoring three goals in the first nine minutes-en route to a 6--2 whitewashing. Six different Dinos scored goals, including Tyler Murray with his first of the season and recent Acadia University escapee Drew Kehler's first as a Dino. Calgary's 52 shots on net were their highest single-game total of the season so far. At the other end of the rink, Dino goaltender Scott Rideout played well-as he has all year-stopping 22 of the 24 shots he faced.
After such a performance, Saturday's game has to be considered a bit of a disappointment. Regina went up by two goals six minutes into the second frame, and it took until late in that period for the Dino's Sean Robertson to get his team within one. Over the course of the game, Calgary bombarded the Regina net with 41 shots, but couldn't manage to put more than one measly puck behind netminder Rob Muntain, who led the Cougars to a 3--1 win. Kudos to Calgary keeper Aaron Baker, who got a rare start and played well despite the loss, stopping 22 of the 24 shots fired at him.
Overall, Calgary's weekend performance was more reminiscent of their early-season prowess, but the results were more typical of 2002-a disappointing split with a team substantially lower than Calgary (now 12--9--1) in the standings. Unless the Dinos break out of this slump, the Cougars and their ilk won't be behind Calgary much longer.
The Dinos play next at home on Feb. 1--2 against the University of Brandon Bobcraps.