Last night as I was doing color commentary for the game between the Regina Cougars and Manitoba Bisons, our in-studio host alerted us that the Saskatchewan Huskies and Calgary Dinos were battling in a 3-3 tie late in the third period. Calgary had barely escaped Winnipeg two weeks earlier as the Bisons fell 5-4 and 3-2 in overtime to the top-ranked team, and some cracks were showing in the armor of the nation's best team. Last night, those cracks finally buckled, and today the rivets were blown out the armor as Saskatchewan went 2-0 against the Dinos.
Calgary's Ryan Harrison opened the scoring on Friday night at 4:15 in the second period with a shorthanded marker for his sixth goal of the season while Drydn Dow watched from the sin bin. Saskatchewan's Andrew Bailey tied the game up at 12:48 with his eighth of the campaign, and then proceeded to head to the penalty box just six seconds later for roughing. On the power play, Harrison scored his seventh and second of the night at 13:34 to put the Dinos up 2-1. And with Taylor Stefishen in the penalty box for the Dinos, Calgary's Giffen Nyren scored at 15:13 to lead the Dinos into the second intermission up 3-1.
Whatever was said in the dressing room between periods needs to be recorded for history books. If you weren't aware, head coach Dave Adolph was suspended for this weekend's games by the University of Saskatchewan, so he wasn't in the room to deliver a stirring speech to his troops. Something, though, was said in that room that was significant because the entire weekend for the Huskies changed for the better while the Calgary Dinos didn't look anything like they did in their first 22 games when they went 20-0-2.
Andrew Bailey pulled the Huskies within one goal at 4:14 of the third period as he scored his ninth goal and second of the night. Bailey would make it a hat trick on the power play at 12:22 as Calgary's Kevin King watched from the penalty box for his tenth goal of the season. Suddenly, the Dinos were caught on their heels and momentum was swinging away from them. The two teams traded chances for the next five minutes, but it was Calgary who made the first mistake as Max Ross was sent to the penalty box at 17:25 for holding. The opportunity to knock the Dinos off the mountain was given, but could Saskatchewan capitalize?
The answer would be yes! Craig McCallum faked a shot just inside the power play as the man-advantage was nearly over before firing a quick pass to Jesse Ross in the slot. Ross made no mistake as he wristed a shot five-hole on Calgary goalie Kris Lazaruk, and the Huskies led 4-3 with 41 seconds to play! I can tell you that despite the scramble late in the game, Ryan Holfeld closed the door on the Dinos to help the Huskies to the 4-3 win, and provided the Calgary Dinos their first loss in regulation time this season!
Hey now, hey now. Don't dream... IT'S OVER!
Wow. I'm not sure anyone saw that score coming, but the Huskies can officially put their names beside the first "L" hung around the necks of the Dinos this season. But they still had another game to play today, and it would be interesting to see how both teams respond after last night. Could the Huskies continue to ride the emotional wave of beating the nation's best team? Would the Dinos roar back and thump the Huskies to re-establish their dominance in Canada West after playing perhaps their worst third period of the season?
The answer? Yes. And no.
Calgary's Kevin King opened the scoring with his eighth of the season before the Huskies absolutely destroyed the Dinos by scoring ten - TEN - straight goals over the next three periods, including Kenton Dulle scoring a natural hat trick on three power play goals in the first period at 10:55, 15:38, and 16:59. Dulle would add a fourth goal at 4:05 of the second period to give him 13 on the season, and Derek Hulak would finish the game with two goals and four assists. Final score? 10-2 in favor of the Huskies!
Hey now, hey now. Don't dream... IT'S OVER!
The Dinos will head back to Calgary to lick their wounds as they now sit with a 20-2-2 record on the season. Technically, they have more points at 42 than the Alberta Golden Bears at 41, but the Bears have a better winning percentage with a 20-2-1 record. That means that the Dinos officially fall to second-place in the Canada West Conference with Alberta scheduled to meet the Lethbridge Pronghorns later tonight. If it's any consolation, the Golden Bears absolutely thrashed the Pronghorns by a 13-0 score last night, so the Golden Bears could be first-place coming out this weekend, and it would be the first week of the men's hockey season that the Dinos would not be atop the standings board.
As Crowded House sang in the 1980s, "Hey now, hey now / Don't dream, it's over", the undefeated-in-regulation season for the Dinos is over. The Saskatchewan Huskies laid waste to the most-dominant team in the country this weekend, sending them home with nightmares instead of a chance to wrap up an unparalleled season. The Huskies, with the wins, earned a playoff home game, so they'll be fired up come time for the Canada West playoffs.
But most of all, the wins for the Huskies this weekend should give everyone else in Canada West some hope that anyone can beat anyone on any given day. Calgary shouldn't book tickets to Saskatoon for the CIS Men's Hockey Championship. No one has earned anything yet.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!