As the XX Winter Olympic Games kicked off, CBC drew more than 2.85 million viewers for their broadcasts. Still, close to 400 fans managed to show up at Father David Bauer Arena for the Dinos men's hockey games Feb. 10-11. These fans were treated to two overtime thrillers that ended quite differently.
At the end of the day, not only did the Dinos fail to gain any ground in the standings against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, but the games left them dissatisfied and with a less than happy coach.
On Friday, the referees put their whistles away and let the players control their own destinies, calling only six penalties the entire game. The Thunderbirds jumped out to an early one-goal lead in the first, but the Dinos answered with two of their own to overcome the deficit.
The teams exchanged goals in the second period with Lance Morrison scoring for the Thunderbirds and Tyrel Lucas scoring for the Dinos. With a 3-2 lead going into the third, the Dinos didn't do themselves a favour by allowing 18 shots on goal while sending only four shots the T-Birds' way. UBC's Steve Bunney managed to slip the puck past goaltender Scott Talbot for an unassisted, even-strength goal, sending the game into overtime.
But OT didn't last long. Jarret Lukin sent forward Brett O'Malley in alone against Thunderbird goalie Gerry Festa just one minute into overtime. O'Malley made no mistake, notching the game-winning goal with the first shot of the period.
Although the 4-3 win gave the Dinos their 12th victory of the season, the team felt they weren't playing to their potential. They were out-shot 35-25, so much of the credit for the win should go to Talbot.
Unfortunately the second game against UBC would be worse, despite the Dinos playing better and harder. The penalty situation took a 180-degree turn, with 21 called between the two teams. The Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead in the first, with their first coming on a powerplay after Wes Reid took a slashing penalty.
Dino Daniel LaPointe pulled our men back within one early in the second, but UBC's Dustin Paul scored his second of the night and Jordan Beirnes added another to make the game 4-1. Just as fans began to think the Dinos dug themselves too deep of a hole to get out of, the team proved them wrong, scoring three unanswered goals in the third to tie things up.
The teams needed overtime to break the tie for the second time in as many nights. This time, the Thunderbirds only out-shot the Dinos by one, but it was the extra shot that propelled them to victory, as Ashley Todd's slapshot fooled Talbot to end the game.
The Dinos managed to score two powerplay goals in the game, but gave up two to the Thunderbirds. After being one of the best teams at taking advantage of powerplay chances in the first half of the season, the Dinos have dropped since the Christmas break. These opportunities will be crucial for the Dinos going into the last week of the season and the playoffs.
"It's like asking a girl for a dance. You get rejected and you start to hesitate before every move," commented Atkinson. "But you just have to keep your head up and keep asking."
The Dinos remain three points ahead of UBC in the mountain division with two games left for each team. UBC will take on the last-placed University of Lethbridge Pronghorns Feb. 17-18 while the Dinos have a home-and-home series with the top-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears. Their last regular season home game takes place at Father David Bauer Arena Thu., Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. with the teams meeting in Edmonton for a rematch Sat., Feb. 18.