Cougars off to strong start
MRU’s hockey team ignites crowd at home opener
By Dan Khavkin, Staff Writer
The Mount Royal Cougars men’s hockey team returned home on Oct. 22, after a successful trip in Manitoba, winning both weekend games and rising to eighth place in the national rankings prior to the home opener. The men prepared for a home-and-home against their crosstown rivals, the University of Calgary Dinos. Both teams came into the contest 2-0.
The game also marked first edition of the Crowchild Classic. In front of a packed electrified home crowd of 525, the Cougars put on a show, taking down their rivals 5-2.
Cougars’ Captain Matt Brown put on a show of his own in his final home opener, scoring a hat-trick with the help of his linemates Olsted and Watson. Mount Royal kept frustrating their opposition with swift puck movement and quick feet drawing penalties throughout the game, going two for four on the power play.
One of the goals scored by the Dinos was a five on three. Colin Cooper did his job at the back end, stopping 21 of 23 shots for a third straight game with a save percentage above 90 to start the season.
An overall solid team performance on both ends frustrated a Dinos team that couldn’t get anything going all game. Attempting to throw the Cougars off their game, the Dinos set the tone early on physically by throwing their bodies around and starting skirmishes at the end of whistles. By the end of the game tensions had run high between the two teams and a bench-clearing brawl was narrowly avoided after two Dinos took a run at a gliding Cougars’ player with less than two seconds left.
The Cougars however kept composed, hitting back just as hard and more importantly potted more in the back of the net before hitting cruise control and maintaining their tempo on the way to a third straight win.
The two teams met again the next afternoon at the University of Calgary, which would be the final matchup between the two teams until they meet in February at the Scotiabank Saddledome. For a second straight night the Cougars left the Dinos with a disappointing loss. Despite the Dinos scoring a couple of late ones, the Cougars three goals in the final period was enough to come away with a 4-3 victory, starting the season with four wins and zero losses for the second time in five years.
The goals in the second game came from Brown, whose goal gave him four in two nights, Luke Simpson, who potted two, and Cam Maclise.
Tempers were still flaring as both teams put up 59 minutes worth of penalties with a Dinos player even receiving a game misconduct. The power play didn’t perform as well in the second contest, going one for nine, but it was enough to keep the Dinos pinned in their zone for almost a period worth of penalty killing.
Head coach Bert Gilling was able to roll his four lines and the deference also put up some points on the score sheet. Cooper stopped 26 of 29, leaving him as one of the few undefeated goalies in the nation. The Cougars are on a roll for sure and are ranked 4th in the country going into a home-and-home against the prestigious University of Alberta Golden Bears away then home.