March 20, 2023

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CHARLOTTOUN, PAY – The University of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team’s season came to an abrupt end Friday after a 4-2 national quarter-final loss to hosts UPEI Panthers at the Cavendish Cup U SPORTS Championships at the Eastlink Centre.

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The Dinos ended an unforgettable season in which they won their first Western Canadian Championship since 1996 and went on a record 23 win streak to end the regular season as the No. 1 team in the country.

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UPEI were the first to hit the board on Friday when they fired a shot from close range. After some confusion over whether the puck hit the post or went over the net, the referees switched to replay and ruled that Drake Pilon had indeed scored a good goal.

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“UPEI came out with a lot of energy. They were really physical, it took us a long time to figure out how to react to it. In the end, we got to it, but in these games and in these moments, every little thing matters,” said Calgary head coach Mark Howell. “I give credit to UPEI, I think they played very hard and we didn’t play enough to get what we wanted.”

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The Panthers were able to add another ball to take a 2-0 lead at the first half when Andrew Picco found the back of the net.

Calgary was able to return to the game in the middle of the second power play. After a bit of a setback, Connor Gutenberg was able to pass the puck to Bradley Schunbaert. The elder fired a rocket to make a one-goal game with 9:34 left in the second.

Dino almost equalized at the end of the second leg with a couple of strong chances. The first came in a three-on-one match that ended with Jonah Capriotti making an outstanding stick save with just over three minutes left in the frame. The second came in the last seconds of the period when Josh Mather raced to get his stick with a long pass behind the defense, but Capriotti was able to just get the stick to check. Noah King was there for the rebound but was unable to get a clear connection on a backhand attempt.

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“We needed to go around the puck faster, they attacked the puck with more pressure and speed. We have a lot more time at our big rink and today we didn’t have much time or space and it was hard for us to adjust,” Howell said.

Early in the third round, Caleb Pearson got the fans to their feet with an impressive individual effort, giving the Panthers a 3-1 lead before Troy Lajenesse made it 4-1 with 13 minutes left.

Mather was able to score a late goal to give the loyal Dinos some hope, but it was too late as the Panthers took the win on their home ice.

Carl Tetachuk ended the night with 27 saves for Dino, with Capriotti crediting 20 wins.

“We had a lot of success this year when we look at all the achievements it was amazing, but being in this event is a one-game matchup and it’s important to understand how important it is to be ready to play fast and physically and adapt faster. We knew what they were going to do, this rink is a little different for us, so we all need to learn from it and grow,” Howell explained.

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Friday night was the last Dinos game for Brendan De Jong, Schunbert and Jordan Xavier, who ended the program this season.

“Our team has a number of achievements. 23 wins in a row, the growth of so many players getting better every week and culminating in a win in the Canadian Western Championship that hasn’t happened in 27 years for the University of Calgary – it was a big moment,” Howell said. added. “However, I cannot remove the sting that everyone feels today, it is a terrible and empty feeling. I think over time we will look at the achievements, but ultimately you want to win your last game and it’s hard when you get the top eight teams in the country.

“We beat great teams in the playoffs, but when you come here it’s different and we have to learn from that.”


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