Hockey: CW recap - Alberta dismantles Dinos in conference final

The Calgary Dinos Canada West conference championship hopes will have to wait until next year after the Alberta Golden Bears successfully defended their conference crown with a convincing two game sweep of their southern rivals. Making their first conference finals appearance since 1996 and first against Alberta since 1990, Calgary ran into a Bears team that would prove to be too much offensively.

Friday night in Game 1 of the series the Bears got out to a quick start scoring 3:53 into the first period when conference MVP Derek Ryan beat Calgary's Dustin Butler. Then just 52 seconds later Alberta would strike again when Sean Ringrose scored to make it 2-0 - Calgary had fallen victim to the Bears' lightning quick offence. Ryan would add another marker in the third, while rookie netminder Kurtis Mucha stopped all 32 shots he faced for his second playoff shutout in a 3-0 Alberta victory in front of a raucous crowd at Clare Drake Arena.

Butler got the hook after Alberta went up 3-0, although he couldn't be faulted for any of the three goals. Calgary head coach Mark Howell explained his decision to pull Butler and put in rookie Kris Lazaruk this way:

"Laz hasn't played in three weeks, so I wanted to make sure I got him in there. There's still a lot of playoff hockey. You never know what's going to happen." - The Edmonton Journal

After Friday night's impressive start it would've been hard for Alberta to get out of the gates any quicker, but that's exactly what the Bears did when Ryan scored shorthanded on a beautiful feed from Chad Klassen only 55 seconds into the opening frame beating Lazaruk - the rookie got the start Saturday over Butler in a rather puzzling move by the conference's coach of the year. J.P. Szaszkiewicz would extend the Bears lead to two when he scored at the 6:27 mark of the first period, but then 14 seconds later Calgary's Joel Eisenkirch would answer back to cut the lead to one. That would be all the Dinos scoring, while Alberta put up a five spot in the second period, adding one more in the third for good measure in an 8-1 destruction of Calgary.

It was a feisty finish to the game witnessed by 2 975 at the Drake with a solid stream of Bears and Dinos heading to the penalty box in the third - Calgary had six minor penalties in the final frame compared to four for Alberta. Of all the shenanigans that went on in the third none stand out more than an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed to Calgary's Eric Frere who slapped a shot into the Bears bench intentionally after the Bears had gone up 8-1. Luckily for the Alberta bench Frere didn't get all of a rolling puck off a faceoff just outside the Calgary zone.

Another interesting moment in this one happened when Calgary assistant coach Cory Cross - a former Bear - wouldn't shake hands with Alberta head coach Eric Thurston after the game. It's safe to say there's some bad blood between these two sides, but again the Canada West season ends with Alberta coming out on top claiming their fourth straight conference title and 10th in 11 years.

Both teams now head to Fredericton for the University Cup that gets underway March 24th.
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1 comment:

  1. More on Cross refusing to shake hands: