Cougars defeated by Dinos in tough weekend sweep

Photo: Adrian Shellard
Photo: Adrian Shellard

CALGARY - After last night's thrilling double overtime victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome, the University of Calgary Dinos returned to the Father David Bauer arena in Calgary for a rematch against the Mount Royal Cougars. 

It was once again Cain Franson who played the hero, scoring his second consecutive game-winning goal to tame the Mount Royal Cougars.

The third period would once again prove to be explosive, as the Dinos and Cougars combined for four goals. The Dinos entered the third period with a 2-0 lead, but the game was just waiting to be blown open, after clunky first and second periods.

Both teams jumped out to quick starts in the final frame. First, Jared Hauf would hit the post after being a fed perfect pass from Cain Franson right in front of Cougars goalie Wyatt Hoflin.

However, Mount Royal was quick to respond to the Dinos' pressure on the powerplay. Chris Gerrie would tip a shot by Jamal Watson on the right wing past Dinos goalie Jordan Papirny to cut the Dinos' lead to 2-1.

The Cougars were not finished, as the powerplay unit would once again flex its muscles. Similar to their first goal, a shot at on the wing would be redirected past Jordan Papirny. This time, it would be Maddison Smiley who would get his stick on the puck.

Despite this, the Dinos remained resilient as they continued to press the Cougars. This persistence would pay off as Cain Franson would once again streak down the ice and fire a laser past the Cougars goalie. Just like yesterday, Franson would receive a perfect pass from his teammate to set up his game-winner. This time, the pass came from Ryan Graham, who scored the game-tying goal yesterday night to send the game to overtime.

When asked about his heroics this weekend, Franson remained humbled and focused on his team's success.

"Anytime you can get on the scoresheet and help your team out individually it is always nice, but the bigger point is that we got four points this weekend."

Both teams came out of the gates with high energy despite playing less than 24 hours ago in an emotionally charged slugfest. However, the shift from the bright lights and big ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome proved to be a factor early on, as both teams struggled to register shots on net and establish continued offensive zone time.

Action began to pick up with roughly five minutes to play when the Dinos took the game's first penalty. Before time expired on the Dinos' minor, the Cougars took a penalty of their own.

With five seconds remaining in the Dinos' powerplay, Riley Sheen opened the scoring as he converted on a fantastic pass from Dinos captain Dan Gibb.

The second period saw a very similar pattern to the first, with both teams skating up and down the ice, but failing to generate many scoring opportunities. However, just like in period one, the Cougars would take a late penalty. Once again, the Dinos would capitalize, this time at the hands of Chris Collins. After gaining the red line and rushing down the left wing, Collins would feather a pass to Cain Franson who would fire a shot on goal. Collins would follow the play and tuck in the rebound after Cougars goalie Wyatt Hoflin was unable to cover up.

The third period saw the Cougars tie the game up, before Cain Franson would score the game-winner, and Tim Vanstone would add an empty net marker.

"It is huge, and was really important this weekend [despite] the emotional game last night with the Crowchild Classic," remarked Dinos bench boss Mark Howell on his teams' wins.

"We found a way to get four points and we need every point that we can get to claw our way back into this. Good job to the guys as we didn't quit in either game and stuck with it long enough."

These games were almost certainly must wins for the Dinos, who entered this series against the Cougars four points back of a playoff spot

With their weekend sweep, the Dinos now move into a tie with Lethbridge for Canada West's final playoff spot. The Pronghorns have a weekend series of their own, but lost to the Alberta Golden Bears tonight 8-1 in game one of their series.

The next two weeks will be critical for the Dinos as they will first travel to Regina to play the Cougars, before finishing off the season in Calgary against Manitoba. 

"Those are two big games next weekend against Regina and we cannot take them lightly," explains Cain Franson. "We need to keep pushing forward in order to make playoffs. We know how big those games are as a team."

"We want to make the playoffs," adds head coach Mark Howell. "I don't think we need any more motivation than that."

Mount Royal will see the UBC Thunderbirds next weekend in Calgary, before traveling to Saskatchewan to close out the 2017-2018 season.