MRU, U of C split Crowchild Classic
Cougars show heart in victory and defeat
The Scotiabank Saddledome was electric on Feb. 7 when the Crowchild Classic hit the ice, and was major success setting a new CIS record of over 4,000 spectators.
The University of Calgary women Dinos and the Mount Royal University women Cougars were the first to take the stage, and the gravity of this game was already obvious when the Calgary Flames announcer introduced the duelling squads.
This competition between fans was enhanced throughout the game with varying events like trivia and malt-ice-cream eating contests, engaging the spectators in friendly competitive environment.
The first five minutes saw five shots and a lot of back-and-forth play, with the Dinos quickly gaining the early edge. The Cougars took an early penalty that the Dinos tried to capitalize on by getting two big shots on net.
The Cougs’ did manage a big shorthanded chance and also had a big block in their own zone.
The Dinos then found their rhythm and showed why they are the top team in the country, completely out-shooting MRU by the 12-minute mark. Hayley Wickenheiser looked strong and Mount Royal’s first power play resulted in no shots.
By the five-minute mark, the shots were 11-3 Dinos, but Michelle Ziegler of the Cougars managed to sneak a shot past the Dinos’ keeper anyway, to take the first lead of the game.
The Cougars took that lead into the second period, but it only took 56 seconds for the Dinos to tie it up, bouncing back with a flurry of shots and outshooting the Cougars 17 -7.
Thanks to strong goaltending and a kneeing penalty assessed to the Dinos, the Cougars were able to keep prolonged pressure and Sarah Weninger banged in a rebound, taking the lead 2-1.
However, the Dinos Russian star Iya Gavrilova managed to tie the score with 7:21 remaining in the second, notching the score at two. The Russian sniper then jumped on a break-away and buried the go-ahead goal and her second of the night, 3-2 Dinos.
The Dinos came out strong in the third period and managed to hold the Cougars to only a few shots. The Cougars couldn’t manage to keep prolonged pressure in the Dinos’ zone, leading to two more Dino goals by Wickenheiser and Lovell. Final score: 5-2 Dinos.
A valiant effort for the Cougars women’s team, as they were able to keep pace with U of C for most of the game. There were definitely promising signs.
The ‘dome exploded with fans eager to see the men face-off. This game depended on who would be the better tender between the pipes.
The game started fast with a physical north-south style of play, as the Cougars were able to keep substantial pressure in the Dinos zone and mustered some great shots on the Dinos goalie.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi took one of the first intermission breaks to announce the winner of the overall Crowchild Classic minigames, crowning the U of C as champs of the inaugural year. This could have perhaps waited until following the game, but it did not dampen the spirits of the Cougars.
The Cougars took a hooking penalty with 7:49 remaining in the first period and the Dinos put three shots onto the Dinos net minder, which were all turned away. With lots of hits and some solid scoring chances, the first was only a preview of what was to come.
The Dinos started the second on the power play, and went up 11-6 in shots. Thanks to some stellar goaltending, the Cougars held off the Dinos. The bodies were flying, to the crowds delight, and with 17:40 left, coinciding penalties were handed out.
Only a minute later, the Dinos scored and went up 1-0.
What seemed like seconds later, the Cougars rang one off the post. The teams then exchanged powerplay opportunities that didn’t translate into any goals.
The Dinos got one more power play opportunity but the Dinos goalie kept shutting the door. With just 48 seconds left, Eric Galbraith of the Cougars buried a wrister to tie it up 1-1.
The 15th save for the Dinos goalie was unbelievable, but was not enough as at 16:08 in the third, Devin Gannon scored to put the Cougars up 2-1.
The game was really starting to heat up and the Cougars looked like the stronger team in that period.
The U of C went on the power play, but again were turned away by strong defense and stellar goaltending.
With seven minutes left, Brenden Turnbull of the Cougars laid a massive hit and set the tone for the rest of the game. The last five minutes turned into desperation mode for the Dinos. The Cougars eventually potted an empty netter to seal the victory.
This was a great game to watch and to be a part of. You could feel the energy that the fans gave to their players.
What a night of hockey. The stage is set for years to come of this cross-town rivalry.