Settling for the split
Dinos steal one victory at home from the Cougars men’s hockey team last weekend
The University of Regina Cougar men’s hockey team went on the prowl for some much needed points last weekend at the Co-operators Centre.
With two wins, they would surely be back in the Canada West playoff race, but two losses would make the hill that much steeper for the team to climb. In the end, Regina managed a split.
Regina’s opponent, the University of Calgary Dinos, sat fourth in the conference at 6-4 heading into the weekend and was prepared to go to war with the Cougars, who were sixth at 5-9.
On Friday, even though both teams wanted a back and forth battle, the performance was a little lackluster by each team to say the least. Calgary downed Regina 3-0.
“It just didn’t go our way, and we couldn’t get any bounces,” noted Cougars forward Ryan Sawka of the team’s effort Friday night.
Regina did not play terribly, though one would think so judging solely by the score sheet. The Cougars were held off of the scoreboard and handed Dinos goalie Dustin Butler his first shutout of the season. He made 27 saves. Cougars goaltender Adam Ward made 23 saves. As a result of his strong performance, Butler is now the top goalie in the division with a 1.74 goals against average and a .947 save percentage.
With two points already out of their hands, the Cougars knew that they would have to come out firing on all cylinders Saturday night if they were going to settle the score with Calgary.
The end result was a 6-5 victory by the Cougars.
Regina jumped out to an early two-goal lead on Saturday off of goals from Adam McPherson and Tyler Penny. Calgary replied barely a minute later to cut Regina’s lead to one when Breyden DeCock sniped one past Ward, who made 26 saves in the game.
The Cougars came out big in the second and were able to get three goals past Calgary goaltender Kris Lazaruk. Dillon Johnstone added a full strength goal as well as a power play goal and Sawka was right behind him, adding a shorthanded goal to Regina’s resume. Calgary’s Joel Eisenkirch was able to light the lamp in the final minutes of the second to help out the Dinos, but the Cougars were carrying a 5-2 lead heading into the final frame.
It appeared to most fans that the Cougars had this one in the bag, especially after Terrance DeLaronde added his fourth goal halfway through the third period. The Cougars were just 10 minutes away from skating to a dominating victory and picking up two points. However, the Dinos were able to kick their performance into another gear and came back by scoring two goals just a minute apart. The score was now 6-4 and the Cougars were starting to grip their sticks a little tighter to try and hold on to the victory.
In a desperate attempt to even the score, the Dinos pulled the goalie and were actually able to sneak one past Ward with just 35 seconds left on the clock. As the time slowly ticked down, Calgary was never able to force overtime and handed the Cougars the victory and the important two points.
“The boys played strong” said Sawka. “We played well all weekend actually, but on Saturday the effort was there and we were rewarded for it.”
The Cougars are done regular season play for 2010, though they will travel to Ontario to battle the Lakehead University Thunderwolves this weekend in non-conference play. Regina sits sixth in the conference at 6-10-0.
During the break Sawka admits that the team will just “need to work on being more mentally alert.” If the team is able to work on this, then the second half of their season should be a successful one.