Lance Doucet; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – A slap shot 3:44 into double overtime by Chris Rauckman secured a 4-3 Game 2 win for the No. 5 University of Calgary Dinos as they closed out their Canada West quarter-final series against the Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Following a convincing series-opening win by the Dinos on Friday night at Father David Bauer Arena, the home side faced a more desperate Pronghorns team on Saturday as they attempted to keep their playoff hopes alive. The teams traded one-goal leads throughout the night, while 16 total power plays only added to the drama.
"We did not come out the way we wanted to but we stuck with it and we got the win," explained Rauckman, whose team trailed twice in the game before taking their first lead in the third period.
The Dinos will now matchup against the No. 1-ranked Alberta Golden Bears in the conference semifinal next weekend in Edmonton.
"It is a fun atmosphere to play in, the crowd up there is always great, they are a great team, but we believe in ourselves," said Rauckman.
Making lineup changes heading into Game 2, the Pronghorns saw immediate dividends in the form of fifth-year forward Artsiom Kalashnikov. After receiving the puck behind the net, the senior connected on a wrap around attempt for his first playoff goal.
The Dinos responded right away as they tied the game at the 5:33 mark with a setup from Coda Gordon to Matt Alfaro in close for his second of the series.
Both teams had quality scoring opportunities on the man advantage, but it was an odd-man rush while 5-on-5 that saw Lethbridge regain the lead. Off a collision at center ice, Brooks Maxwell picked up the puck and skated in with Michael Grant, who snapped a shot off the post and in.
Lethbridge netminder Garret Hughson continued to face sustained pressure from the Dinos and made several key stops to keep his team in front.
The Pronghorns' lead remained in tact until the late stages of the middle frame when the Dinos went on a four-minute power play. Dane Gibson sent a point shot towards the net, creating a scramble that eventually ended with Mitch Cook corralling the puck and firing it past Lethbridge netminder Garret Hughson.
Calgary took the lead on a Riley Sheen one-timer at the 1:14 mark of the third period and appeared to be on cruise control until the halfway mark when Russell Maxwell tied the game again. The third-year forward picked off a clearing attempt, skated down from the blue line and hammed the puck through Calgary's Jordan Papirny.
The Dinos took the final three infractions of the game late in the third period and into overtime, giving Lethbridge eight-minutes of power play time to force Game 3.
An aggressive penalty kill by Calgary kept the Pronghorns off the scoreboard though, setting the stages for a second overtime period where Rauckman provided the heroics.
"We were lucky enough to get the turnover in the neutral zone there and a great pass from my linemate set me up for a shot and I was thankfully able to put one home," said the overtime hero.
While the Dinos head into the second round of the Canada West playoffs, the season is far from over for the Pronghorns, who will now begin preparations for hosting he 2019 Cavendish Farms U SPORTS University Cup, March 14-17 at the ENMAX Centre.
Photo by David Moll