March 3, 2014

Schulich's Alex Dzielski sends Dinos to conference final

2-1 series win


CALGARY – Facing elimination and an upset, the No. 4-ranked University of Calgary Dinos overcame a tenacious University of Manitoba Bisons squad for a 2-1 overtime triumph, booking their ticket to the conference final with a 2-1 series win on Sunday evening at the Father David Bauer Arena.

In a day that saw two of the CIS' top 10 teams eliminated from the post season, the Dinos had to battle to avoid becoming the third. Manitoba was a shot away from going to the championship series despite not leading throughout the weekend. Calgary's Ryan Harrison and Manitoba's Brendan Rowinski tallied the only goals of regulation. Harrison would assist in the overtime heroics as his set-up Alex Dzielski for the deciding goal.

"It was a battle, it was a lesson learned by our guys on how hard you have to play in the playoffs. There are no free inches versus a team like that," explained Dinos bench boss Mark Howell. "I thought we started really well, when the glass broke we lost our wind. After that we didn't really get it back until midway through the third. I thought we skated really well from there until we got the game-winner."

Trying to improve on their power play efforts from the night before, the Dinos struck first at the 5:27 of the first period. Calgary took the play to the front of the net where the first-year Harrison was able to put in a rebound off a Walker Wintoneak deflection for his first goal of the playoffs.

While the first period was very feisty on both sides of the puck, the Bisons did not assert themselves until one play altered the momentum of the period. A hit on Giffen Nyren broke a pane of glass in the Manitoba end, delaying the game for upwards of 15 minutes as the rink crew cleaned things up. When the play resumed, the Bisons were all over the ice and tied the game on a shot by Rowinski at 15:15 of the opening frame.

While neither club found a hole on their opponent's netminder, the second period was full of chances. Five power plays were divided out but were turned away by strong penalty killing.

With it all on the line in the third period, the fourth-ranked team in the country did their best to sway the play in their favour. The Dinos were able to control the majority of possession in the 20 minute session, but once again couldn't solve Joe Caligiuri. The Bisons ended regulation with the best chance as a Manitoba shot in the dying seconds fell just before the goal line, allowing the Dinos to swipe it away from danger, leading to a second-straight night of overtime.

Unable to end the game in 60 minutes time, Calgary continued with force in the extra session, looking to avoid an upset. Just over five minutes into the first overtime, Harrison cut around the left side and went behind the net where he made a pass. The puck connected with Dzielski who launched a shot that went off a body in front and past Caligiuri, sending the Father David Bauer Arena into a frenzy to end the series.

"I knew I had some room to skate, I saw that Manitoba had backed up so I took it wide. They collapsed so I found Alex wide open, he let it go and it went in," said Harrison.

Manitoba outshot Calgary 36-25. Jacob DeSerres made 24 saves, while Caligiuri stopped 34 in the defeat.

The Dinos were 1-6 on the power play, while the Bisons went 0-3 on the man advantage.

With the series victory, Calgary now advances to the Canada West Final. The championship series will be held in Edmonton, hosted by the No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears.