Sunday, October 03, 2010

With the calendar finally turned to October it means only one thing - the opening of the 2010-11 Canada West season.

In the first weekend of regular season play two provincial battles got the puck dropped on another season of hockey, with the Regina Cougars playing host to the Saskatchewan Huskies and the defending conference champs from Alberta entertaining the Calgary Dinos.

Friday night marked the opening of a new era in Cougars history, with Regina moving into their new home, the Co-operators Centre, where 647 fans witnessed more of the same from their hometown team.

Despite eight powerplay opportunities and 34 shots on goal, the Cougars were unable to light the lamp Friday, with second-year Saskatchewan netminder David Reekie recording the shutout to lift the Huskies to a 2-0 win.

Rookie Craig McCallum would net the game winner 10:40 into the first period, with Zach Sim scoring the Huskies other marker.

It was a frustrating start to the season for the Cougars who have long been a sound defensive team that struggles to score.

Again Saturday night in Regina it looked like the Queen City Crew were on their way to a disappointing performance - that is before two third period goals in just over two minutes would give the Cougars all the offence they needed.

After defenceman Brett Ward scored 3:17 into the third to make it 1-0 Saskatchewan, Regina would get their first goal of the season at the nine minute mark from former Manitoba Bison Terrance Delaronde to even the score and get the Cougars their first goal in their new digs.

The powerplay would then give the Cougars the lead 2:10 later when Cody Gross scored the eventual game winner to lift Regina to a 2-1 lead.

Adam Ward would do the rest, and was stellar in net for Regina all night long making 38 saves to garner first star honours.

It was a big win for head coach Blaine Sautner's team who went 2-4 against their provincial rivals during the regular season last year, showing signs of a team that could surprise people around the conference and country.

Regina will travel to Manitoba next weekend for the only Canada West games on the schedule in the second week of play, while Saskatchewan won't play until October 15 when they will face the Cougars at Rutherford Rink in Saskatoon.


As for the only other series this weekend out west, the Alberta Golden Bears rode their top two lines to victory both nights over the Calgary Dinos in Edmonton in a series that would feature five of the two teams' six goalies seeing playing time.

Friday night, third-year netminder Real Cyr got the start for Alberta, and despite giving up a goal on the first shot he faced to Calgary captain Reid Jorgenson, the end result was a 5-2 win for the Bears.

Sean Ringrose led the way for Alberta with a pair of goals Friday, along with defenceman Colin Joe who was active offensively all night for the defending conference champs scoring a goal and adding an assist.

Nathan Deobald started in goal for Calgary (after earning the job by outplaying returner Dustin Butler and rookie Kris Lazaruk in the preseason), and was shaky at times. Deobald was pulled after Alberta took a 4-1 lead on a routine shot from the point by Bears defenceman Jesse Craige that went right under the arm of an unscreened Deobald.

Saturday night the Bears got a two goal performance from Derek Ryan, and a very solid goaltending effort from Kurtis Mucha to score the series sweep in a 4-1 final that featured both Lazaruk - who started the game and gave up all four goals - and Dustin Butler in net for Calgary.

Jerrid Sauer - who scored a beauty off a tipped point shot Friday - got the Dinos' only goal of the night on a five-on-three powerplay in the third, but by then it was too little, too late.

The Dinos didn't show much in the way of offence Friday night, before coming out with a better night Saturday with regards to generating chances, but ran into a goaltender in Kurtis Mucha who started his Alberta career with 109:07 of shutout hockey before Sauer finally beat him.

It was a solid start to the season for Alberta, who along with Calgary won't see their next game action until October 15.


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