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Josh O'Brien/the Gauntlet

Final flurry can’t save men from Classic letdown

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The Crowchild Classic lived up to its name as a record-setting crowd of 6,016 was on hand to take in a dramatic game between the University of Calgary Dinos and the Mount Royal University Cougars men’s hockey teams.

“It was awesome,” said first-year forward Chris Collins, who scored two third-period comeback goals in the 4–3 overtime loss. “The fans erupted and there was a lot of good vibes. It’s just too bad we couldn’t get the results.”

Collins lead the Dinos on a rally from a 3–1 with only five minutes remaining in the third period, but the game ultimately ended in disappointment for the second-place Dinos, who have now lost three straight.

“It wasn’t very good in all aspects. We didn’t really deserve a point,” said fourth-year forward Walter Wintoneak. “The last two minutes were the only time we actually played hard. They outplayed us most of the game and we paid for it in the end.”

An entertaining first period ended with a flurry of goals. Cougars forward Matthew Brown opened the scoring when Devin Gannon found him unchecked in front of the net. The Dinos answered right back just 90 seconds later, with Wintoneak snapping a wrist shot past Cougars goalie Dalyn Flette to finish off a nifty passing play.

Dinos fans did not have long to celebrate however, as the Cougars scored two goals in a 40 second span just a minute after the Dinos equalized. A miscue by goaltender Kris Lazaruk behind the Dino goal led to the second goal. The third came on a Cougars power play after a redirected pass wound up on the stick of Cody Cartier with Lazaruk caught moving the other way.

Lazaruk will likely want to forget his Crowchild Classic experience. After getting caught out of position on the first Cougars goal and giving away the puck behind the net on the second, Jacob DeSerres — with whom Lazaruk has been splitting time with this year — started the second period.

After a forgettable second period, a somewhat lacklustre third period came alive with four minutes remaining when the Dinos managed to pull within one on a power-play goal by rookie sensation Collins. However, the Dinos chances at completing the comeback seemed to be dashed when Dinos defender Giffen Nyren took an unnecessary hit-to-the-head penalty in the dying minutes of the game.

The Dinos were able to kill off the man advantage, leaving them with 40 seconds to equalize. After getting into the Cougars zone, the puck somehow found its way out of the corner and onto the stick of Collins, who with seven seconds on the clock coolly lifted the puck over Flette’s left pad. Dinos fans erupted as Collins capped the comeback and sent the game to overtime.

A cross-checking penalty by Dinos third-year forward Kevin King gave the Cougars a four-on-three powerplay. The Cougars controlled the puck the whole powerplay until a centering pass by Brown went off Gannon’s skate and past DeSerres. It was Mount Royal fans’ turn to celebrate as the Cougars bench stormed the ice and swarmed Gannon who finished the game with two goals and two assists.

The heartbreaking loss was the third in a row for the Dinos who have just three games remaining before the playoffs. Wintoneak highlighted the importance of those games in order to regain confidence after a poor second half of the season.

“It’s simple, start working. We’ve been outworked pretty much all the games after Christmas. Just the simple stuff. Go out there and play hard and let the results happen,” said Wintoneak. “I guess it’s better now than in the playoffs, but we need to turn it around now and right the ship and figure it out really quick here.”

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