By David Song, October 26 2017 —
Currently sitting at 9–4–1 on the season, the Dinos men’s hockey team is off to a hot start. This record includes a home ice record of three wins against only a single loss — a promising foundation for building a deep playoff run.
“Our depth this year is better up front. We’ve got four lines that can play,” said head coach Mark Howell. “Our team speed is better, our ability to do it shift after shift [is better] because we’ve got depth.”
Offence is one of the team’s greatest strengths. The Dinos have netted four or more goals in eight of their first 14 games and dominate opposing squads on the score sheet. They recently showcased their explosiveness in Vancouver, where they dismantled the UBC Thunderbirds 7-0 and 6-1 on Oct. 13 and 14.
“We’ve been able to wear some teams down with our ability to play fast, hard and complete,” Howell said. “When you do that shift after shift, period after period, teams get frustrated.”
Player depth and cohesion has been key in these early successes. The Dinos’ ability to rely on all four forward lines and all three defence pairings lets them builds momentum with consecutive dominant shifts, matching them up well against opponents.
“Our offence doesn’t come from a couple of skilled guys,” said fifth-year forward and alternate captain Adam Kambeitz. “If you look at our group, there is some skill there, but we have a lot of depth. The way we’ve been scoring goals has been playing in the offensive zone, going to the net, getting shots through from the point and just doing the simple things.”
Fifth-year arts major and team captain Dan Gibb agrees.
“One line starts it, where they get a good cycle in and wear the other team down. Another line can feed off that,” Gibb said. “We put three or four good shifts together, and on the fifth shift, that line can go out and score.”
Work ethic is signature of the Dinos’ style of play. Their game plan — based upon consistent offensive zone pressure, rolling four forward lines and scoring by committee — can’t be successful without unrelenting effort from each player. Strong leadership is crucial in fostering this — and the Dinos have plenty of it.
“What makes a leader is, you lead by example and you do it right every day,” Howell said. “[The senior players’] attention to detail on the ice, their approach to their game and their approach to their lifestyle has to be really good. They’ve been outstanding.”
“I think guys listen to me when I’m doing things the right way, whether they’re watching or not. I try to lead by example on and off the ice, whether it’s in school or in the gym,” Gibb added.
Howell and his coaching staff are also integral leaders. Their professionalism and knowledge are widely recognized by their players, such as second-year blueliner Jared Hauf.
“Our practice intensity and work ethic comes from [Howell],” Hauf said. “Putting the time in to get better every day and being held accountable to staying in shape gives us an advantage over some other teams.”
The Dinos evidently have a competitive edge, having made the playoffs each of the past three seasons. In 2015, they played in the USports University Cup — a feat they hope to equal and surpass this year.
The Canada West is a highly competitive division and making the playoffs is never guaranteed. But the 2017-18 roster’s depth, explosive offence and an ever-improving defence foreshadows an exciting year.
The Dinos return to action on Friday, Oct. 27, opening a two-game homestand against the Saskatchewan Huskies at Father David Bauer arena. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.