By Christie Melhorn, January 25 2018 —
The University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team came head-to-head with the Mount Royal University Cougars to open the Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Feb. 2.
The game showcased the Dinos’ resilience and work ethic as they broke their recent streak of scoreless games by shutting out the Mount Royal University Cougars 1–0. The win didn’t come easy, with heavy Cougars momentum challenging the Dinos throughout the game. At final whistle, Mount Royal led the shot clock 27–12.
Nerves ran high in the first period. The Dinos struggled to keep the puck and take meaningful shots. In contrast, the Cougars boasted confident plays, outshooting the Dinos 10–2. Regardless, the Dinos brought a scoreless tie into the first intermission, largely thanks to the goaltending of second-year netminder Kelsey Roberts, who stood tall against multiple one-timers and refused to give up opportunities on the rebound.
Roberts says that the Classic’s reputation placed a lot of pressure on the team.
“There was a lot of hype about [the Classic] around school, especially the week leading up to it,” she said. “We tried to block that out and keep it out of the rink.”
The Dinos burst out of the gate in the second period, playing a more aggressive game and generating opportunities. That pressure paid off near the halfway mark of the second period when fourth-year forward Cheyann Newman tipped a point shot from second-year defender Merissa Dawson for the first goal of the game and Newman’s first of the season. The goal shot a palpable pulse of excitement through the crowd.
Newman says poor communication and anxiety overwhelmed the team in the first period. However, the Dinos collected themselves in the intermission by reevaluating their goals for the game.
“First period was rough. We lacked communication. We were all a bit panicky,” Newman said. “But we talked it over and talked about why we are here — we want to have fun. We calmed down, went out harder and each period got better.”
Roberts helped keep the energy high when she threw herself to the ice to deflect two threatening shots by Cougars forward Andrea Sanderson on a shorthanded chance late in the second. The key play protected the Dinos’ 1–0 lead entering the final period.
Head coach Danielle Goyette credits Roberts’ incredible performance to boosting the team’s morale.
“When you have a goalie like [Roberts] making big saves, it makes you, as a player, feel more accountable and work harder. You want to give back,” Goyette said. “She gave confidence to the players — but we can’t count on her for that all the time.”
Two Dinos penalties early in the third period serrated the game’s flow and put the Dinos’ lead in danger. But Roberts continued to showcase her athleticism and ability to stay calm under pressure with a trio of tight saves to close out the second penalty kill.
The Dinos’ defense tightened nearing the end of the game. U of C defenders kept shots to the outside but it was Roberts’ perfect play that compensated for the Dino’s offensive struggles. Despite their best attempts and a last-minute push, the Cougars were unable to solve Roberts, who earned a well-deserved first star of the game.
Goyette credits the team’s strong work ethic to their win.
“Our work ethic is our strength and that is what we used to change our momentum. They kept working until the end,” she said. “I’m really proud that even though we didn’t start strong, we didn’t stay there.”
On Jan. 26, the Dinos will have an opportunity to extend their winning streak against the Cougars. Newman says the team wants to build off their performance in the third period to secure another win.
“We need to take more shots and keep up the hard work we showed in the third period. We didn’t give up,” said Newman, the game’s second star.
The Jan. 26 game starts at 7 p.m. at Father David Bauer arena. Admission is free for U of C students.