The road to a Canada West championship starts this weekend for the Dinos men’s hockey team. The Dinos takes on the University of Manitoba Bisons in a three-game series beginning on Friday, Feb. 28 at Father David Bauer arena.
It was a tale of two very different halves of the season this year for the Dinos. Prior to the Christmas break the team had won all but one of their games. Since the break their record is a very ordinary 6–5–2.
Dinos head coach Mark Howell believes that lapses in their defensive game are the reason for the sharp drop off.
“We weren’t as good defensively and our penalty killing wasn’t as good. I think that’s just a matter of being focused and committed to the right side of the puck,” said Howell.
Howell went on to talk about how the team’s offensive success may have played a part in this loss of focus.
“Talking to our guys, they admitted that because we scored so many goals in the first half they maybe got a little bit sidetracked with that and weren’t as committed to defensive hockey,” said Howell.
The Dinos beat the Bisons in every game the two teams played this season. Despite this fact, the Dinos are not taking their opponents lightly.
“They’re a good team. They play physical hockey. They’re fast and they’ve got some skilled guys up front that can hurt you,” said Howell. “It’s not going to be an easy weekend. We have to make sure we’re ready to go and ready to skate.”
Should the Dinos get past their semi-final series with the Bisons, it is likely they would face the top-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears in the finals next weekend.
Howell thinks that there are a few key things the squad must do if it wants to have a successful post-season.
“Getting back to what we did really well, when we play with speed, when we’re a skating team and pushing the puck forward we’re a real good group,” said Howell. “When we get a little bit too creative or a little bit too individualistic it hurts us.”