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Photo by Mackenzie Ashcroft

Crowchild Classic makes a comeback

By Rodrigo Verney Lopes, Jett Ryan, February 1 2023

The Crowchild Classic, one of the oldest University of Calgary (U of C) Dinos traditions came back in spectacular fashion last week. A couple of games that will, no doubt, be carried over to posterity shocked Dinos and Mount Royal University Cougars fans as the two clashed in the Saddledome. A night that will be hard to forget and a team that has proven to be hard to beat. The Dinos are on a rampage through the conference with no sign of slowing down.

Women’s Game

Cougars snap the Dinos five-game win streak at the Crowchild Classic.

In the ninth iteration of the notable Crowchild Classic, the Dinos fell a single shootout goal short of victory against the Cougars. A tightly contested battle throughout, this game had all the markers of a well-fought defensive struggle.

Cougars goaltender Kaitlyn Ross and Dinos’ own Gabriella Durante played 70 total minutes plus three shoutout rounds before Edmonton native Aliya Jomha slid the shootout winner past Durante.

The team rallied in front of Dinos goalie Durante who stopped all 29 shots in the combined 60 minutes of regulation time and two five-minute overtime periods.  

Standing tall in the last moments of regulation, Durante shuts down an all-out last-minute Cougar attack that overpowered desperate Dinos defenders.

Most goalies will prefer to face a breakaway over a shootout chance since the latter gives the advantage to the shooter and their extra time to come up with a scoring move. Durante experienced both on Friday.

The Dinos held the Cougars mainly to the perimeter. However, Durante was indeed the nucleus of the team’s defensive effort.

Despite their efforts, Friday coming in a loss, the Dinos women’s team executed key strategies to disrupt the Cougars, especially on the forecheck. Fifth-year Dinos forward and team points leader Alli Borrow and Dinos captain Jordyn Burgar led by example with their intuitive positioning and relentless pressure as the team set the standard to take away time and space from the opponent. 

Offensively the Dinos focused on cutting into the slot before attempting a shot. This strategy is entirely favourable. Shots on target from the slot typically generate the highest number of quality scoring chances, also called “Grade-A” chances. Grade-A scoring opportunities often require a net-front presence of teammates swarming by the net, screening the goalie in the process. 

Throughout the game, the Dinos often established a net-front presence through their effort and attention paid to the physical elements of the game. The team collectively tallied 18 shots on the net, with perhaps double that in shot attempts. The game plan to throw everything on the net came at the cost of attempting to drive into the slot when entering the zone. 

Being selective in shot selection by shooting more from the slot leads to more Grade-A chances in theory; without a net-front presence to bury loose pucks around the net, it becomes harder to score. 

Because the Dinos currently occupy the fifth spot out of nine total teams in the standings, it is crucial to keep sustaining the effort level they showed on Friday. The saying “hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard” springs to mind post-performance. The pure talent on the roster cannot be in doubt; the Dinos women’s hockey team displays tremendous aptitude. 

What will eventually separate the Dinos from the rest of the pack will be how they do the things that require no talent. Being first to lose pucks, maintaining a high effort level and fighting through adversity is sure to be all things Dinos head coach Carla MacLeod imprints on her team moving forward.

Photo by Mackenzie Ashcroft

Men’s Game

Dinos men’s hockey team capture a Canada West record 18th win in a row with a 4-2 Crowchild Classic win over their cross-street rivals. 

The U of C Dinos men’s hockey team sits atop the Canada West standings earning their 18th and eventual 19th consecutive wins this past weekend, both against MRU.

The unprecedented 19-game run sends shockwaves through the rest of the conference as the now 21-3-0 Dinos stand decisively in first place.

Back from a two-year hiatus, this year’s highly anticipated Crowchild Classic fulfilled the highest expectations. The infamous rivalry for bragging rights between the city’s two biggest schools brings with it an atmosphere fueled with passion and excitement.

Before the evening puck drop, 11,083 students, fans, and alums rush to their seats before the lights go out before the national anthem. Although two teams were playing, Cougar and Dinos fans morphed into one chorus chant of “O’Canada.”

The excitement was felt on the shoulders of everyone in attendance that night, but it was on the ice that tension was concentrated, almost as if the audience’s eyes were weighing them down. The Dinos felt the weight but had the shoulders to carry it as they slowly turned the pressure into motivation. 

“It was a little nervous coming into this game but the boys just kept us going, but was a lot of fun.” said Dinos forward Colson Gengenbach.  

The game began with an uproar of cheering fans, and the intensity picks up immediately. Players understandably experience a rush of adrenaline before their cerebral hockey-IQ kicks in. There was no time and space in the game’s first ten minutes.

A collision with Dinos goaltender Carl Tetachuk ignites the first on-ice scrum, which gets cut short by the officials too quickly for the crowd’s liking. Shortly after, Cougars’ leading scorer Riley Sawchuk earned the game’s first goal towards the end of the first, which carried the Cougars into the intermission up one goal to none.

As the crowd’s energy settles down, so do the players on the ice. The first six minutes of the second period generated three goals. Portland Winterhawks alum forward Jake Gricius pots the Dinos’ first goal of the match.

The game goes exactly one minute until the Cougars put themselves ahead, for the last time, on a sweet finish by Cougars forward Josh Tarzwell, which suddenly hushes the Dinos’ side of the Dome.

The Cougars’ hopes at winning were high until former Drayton Valley Thunder and current Dino Colson Gengenbach, with help from his linemates leading scorer Riley Stotts and Jake Gricius, lights up the ice with three unanswered goals notching a natural hat-trick in the Crowchild Classic.

The elusive natural hat trick is one of the rarest accomplishments a player can achieve at any level in a single hockey game. Scoring three straight unanswered goals is impressive until you consider Gengenbach scoring the tying, game-winning, and sealing goal to finalize the Dinos’ 4-2 win.

Photo by Mackenzie Ashcroft

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