In the age of dinosaurs millions of years ago, the Tyrannosaurus Rex reigned supreme. A ferocious predator, the deadly T-Rex knew nothing of mercy, devouring its victims without a care. The University of Calgary women's hockey team took a cue from their reptilian ancestors against the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology Ooks this past weekend playing a full 60 minutes without remorse in both games as they overwhelmed their weaker opponents en route to two big wins.
The Dinos, following a frustrating come-from-behind shootout loss to the Red Deer College Queens last weekend, were determined to come back strong against NAIT. They delivered, nuking the Ooks 3-0 at the Olympic Oval Fri. and following it up with a 2-1 victory the next night up in Edmonton. Although the scores don't seem like blowouts, the combined shot count tells the tale of how lopsided both games truly were, as the U of C dominated the category 72-26.
"It took us a while to get our momentum back, but we've been working really hard in practice recently," said second-year defender Nicole Kuglin. "We got our feet moving, got our forecheck going, and now we're back to the team that we are."
The opening match of the home-and-home series couldn't have gone better for the Dinos. The girls played a perfect game, using a relentless forecheck and backcheck to maintain full control of the puck and pressure NAIT into making costly mistakes. The opening goal of the game came off such a mistake when forward Lianne Legere aggressively blocked a close-range shot just inside the Dinos blueline. Legere picked up the puck and flew between the two stationary NAIT defenders on her way down the ice before firing a slapshot that tickled the twine behind goaltender Alycia Monahan, putting her team ahead by one midway through the second period. NAIT was keeping it somewhat close up until that point but Legere's goal ignited her team, opening up the floodgates for the furious assault that was the latter half of the game.
The lady hockeysaurs extended their lead on a power play goal by Kuglin 4:22 into the third. With a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage at their disposal, the top-ranked Dinos power play went to work, effortlessly cycling the puck around the offensive zone and peppering the NAIT net with shots. The puck eventually came to Kuglin in the high slot. She patiently waited for Monahan to make the first move and go down early, leaving the top of the goal exposed for a hard wrist shot.
"The slot opened up and there was lots of time and room," said Kuglin. "I was looking to pass but I saw an opening and put it top shelf instead."
NAIT's chances disappeared from there on in as they became frustrated and took careless penalties. The Dinos, after having RDC come back in the third last weekend, didn't ease up their attack and instead added another insurance goal, a power play tally scored by forward Alana McEvoy. The Ooks, not wanting to be embarrassed further, played inspired hockey leading up to the final buzzer but their fate had long been sealed, as the Dinos skated away with a well-deserved 3-0 win.
The Dinos were scarcely tested defensively, but rookie goalie Danielle Currie stood her ground when she needed to, earning her first win as a Dino in epic fashion with the shutout.
"I was just happy to get out there and play," said Curry. "I did my part in net and the team did the rest."
The two wins versus NAIT were crucial in helping to determine where the Dinos will finish in the standings and who they'll face in the opening round of the playoffs. The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference is currently air-tight and with their success this past weekend, the Dinos moved into a three-way tie for second place with 23 points, only three points behind the league-leading Mount Royal College Cougars. The lady hockeysaurs are still in the hunt for a first-place finish, but will need to continue playing their best hockey to reach that goal. They take on the defending champion SAIT Trojans next weekend and the aforementioned Cougars after that, their last two opponents of the regular season. The Dinos have collected at least one point in their last 10 games, dating back to Nov. 16 and will look to extend that streak Fri. night versus their inner-city rivals.