Dinos bust out the brooms - For the first time since January of 2008 the #3 Alberta Golden Bears were swept this weekend by the Calgary Dinos, with the Dinos picking up a pair of one goal victories over their provincial rivals.
Friday night Calgary raced out to a 2-0 lead on the road before seeing Alberta come back to tie the game 6:14 into the third on a Ben Lindemulder point shot that beat Calgary netminder Dustin Butler five-hole. The Bears' comeback would fall short though, with the Dinos' Aaron Richards scoring the game winner with 5:51 to go in the game. Calgary would weather a late penalty kill, and come away with their first win at Clare Drake Arena since October 14, 2006.
Defenceman Kodie Curran had a breakout game for Calgary offensively, picking up assists on all three goals for the visiting side.
In the rematch Saturday night down the road in the Stampede City, the Dinos would once again score a narrow win, with the lone goal of the game coming off the stick of Torrie Wheat who scored nearly midway through the second period. The Bears' powerplay was anemic on the night, going zero-for-five.
The sweep was monumental for Calgary, from both a confidence standpoint and in the race for a playoff spot. The Dinos are now tied for second with Manitoba, as both teams have 24 points and are four points back of Alberta. Calgary will head into a big series against Saskatchewan next weekend riding high, in what was the biggest weekend for the program in years, and the biggest under head coach Mark Howell.
As for Alberta, it's officially time to question just how good this team is. The signs had been pointing to Alberta's record in the first half being deceiving after poor performances against UBC and Lethbridge to start the second half, and now it really does look like this team's record in their first 14 wasn't a good measurement of where they truly stand. A bye week this coming weekend couldn't come soon enough, as the defending conference champs will need some time to regroup.
Bisons handle 'Horns - The #9 Manitoba Bisons welcomed the Lethbridge Pronghorns to town this weekend for a pair of games, and would come away with two wins over the 'Horns, reclaiming second place in the conference in the process.
Kyle Howarth had two goals and an assist on Friday night in a 5-1 Manitoba win that saw Lethbridge go zero-for-seven with the man advantage and get outshot in the game by a 38-25 margin. It was a thorough win for Manitoba coming off a bye week, taking the lead 23 seconds into the first, and never looking back.
Saturday night Howarth was once again dynamite for the Bisons, netting his eighth and ninth goals of the season to break a 1-1 tie, and give Manitoba a 3-1 win and the sweep. The Pronghorns were once again outshot, this time 40-31, in what was another busy night for Lethbridge goalie Scott Bowles.
While the two losses don't eliminate Lethbridge from playoff contention, the Pronghorns' playoff chances are all but over given the way the top four have been playing as of late - minus Alberta. It will be simply too tall an order for the 'Horns to make the playoffs now. Manitoba on the other hand is now in the driver's seat for not only a playoff spot, but second in the conference and perhaps a shot at first. The Bisons are four points back of Alberta, and will have a shot to push the Bears for first the final weekend of the season if Manitoba can stay within four.
T-Birds beat lowly Cougars - The UBC Thunderbirds are still in the playoff picture thanks to a pair of wins this weekend at home over last place Regina, keeping pace with Calgary and Manitoba in the race for the postseason and are now tied with Saskatchewan with 22 points - the Huskies do have two games in hand on UBC though.
Friday night saw UBC get goals from five different players in a 5-3 win, while Saturday night would need a shootout to find a winner. Brennan Sonne was the lone goal scorer in the skills competition after he and Regina's Tyler Penny scored the only goals of regulation.
This was a rather uninspiring series heading into the weekend, and the end result was what was anticipated - a UBC sweep. It took some extra time on Saturday night, but that's what happened. Regina is playing for next year, and when next year is more than eight months away, it's tough to expect any results out of this team. UBC is hanging around in the battle for a top four spot, and that in itself makes this season a successful one for that program given the low expectations at season's open.