Cougars, Dinos share honours in thrilling Crowchild Classic showdowns at Saddledome

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Connor Bouchard and Connor Blake both scored in the shootout to send the Mount Royal Cougars to a comeback 3-2 shootout win over the University of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team Wednesday night in another memorable chapter of the annual Crowchild Classic series in front of a packed house inside the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Shane Farkas was named the top star of the night after, making 18 saves in net for the Cougars, keeping the Dinos out of the net on both their shootout attempts.

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Carl Tetachuk was incredible in net for the Dinos, racking up a season-high 39 saves on the night.

With the win, MRU moves to 18-5, good for third place in Canada West. After picking up a point, the Dinos move into a tie for first place with UBC at 19-4-2.

The Dinos wasted no time giving their fans something to cheer about as Jake Gricius whipped a sharp wrist shot past Farkas just 22 seconds into the game. Gricius’ goal shattered the record for the fastest goal scored in the Crowchild Classic, breaking Matt Alfaro’s goal 2:10 in the ‘Dome back in 2018.

After netting the early goal, it was the Cougars trying to play catchup the rest of the opening period, unleashing wave after wave on the attack. But Tetachuk wowed the Calgary faithful multiple times with several clutch and improbable saves, including an incredible no-look behind-the-back glove save.

Thanks to Tetachuk’s strong play, the Dinos carried the 1-0 lead into the second frame.

The Cougars successfully carried over the momentum into the second period of play, peppering a flurry of pucks on net. MRU finally cracked Tetachuk’s armour midway through the period when the nation’s leading point scorer, Connor Bouchard, showed off his playmaking skills making a slick behind the net pass to teammate Jaden Senkoe, who took advantage of a small window on the right side of the net and flipped home his eighth goal of the year.

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2024 Crowchild Classic
Calgary Dinos fans cheer during the Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Although it was the Cougars who scored, the goal seemed to re-energize Calgary’s offence which had laid dormant since the opening minute of the game. With 3:07 remaining in the second, the Cougars would take a tripping penalty that proved costly.

Calgary’s top line was able to find some space to operate and when a Noah King slapshot was turned away by Farkas, Colson Gengenbach — the hat trick-scoring hero of last year’s Crowchild Classic — found the puck on his stick in front of the net. Gengenbach patiently waited for an opportunity to lift the puck past the Cougars goalie, giving the Dinos the 2-1 lead.

In a back-and-forth third period, the Dinos nearly had the game closed out, but a strong push by Mount Royal saw Blake Stevenson just dribble one past the pads of Tetachuk to tie things up with just over seven minutes remaining.

The remaining few minutes of regulation and the five minutes of overtime were filled with countless thrilling goal-scoring chances that were met with an equal amount of saves by both goalkeepers — who both were the stars of the game.

With the game going to a shootout for the first time in the men’s installation of the Classic, Bouchard and Blake both went to the backhand to find the back of the net, while Farkas was able to stonewall both of Calgary’s first two skaters to bring the MRU bench rushing the NHL ice in celebration.

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Both teams will return to action Friday (7 p.m.) for a rematch at Father David Bauer Arena. 

2024 Crowchild Classic
University of Calgary Dinos forward Laura Jardin and Mount Royal University Cougars forward Allee Gerrard battle during the Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

Former Cougar Kollman lifts Dinos

Courtney Kollman broke a scoreless game with her ninth goal of the year early in the third period to give the University of Calgary Dinos women’s hockey team a 2-0 win over the No. 2 Mount Royal Cougars Wednesday in front of 10,474 fans inside the Scotiabank Saddledome for the annual Crowchild Classic.

Kollman — who spent the past two seasons with the Cougars before transferring to Calgary for her master’s program — redirected a shot from the blue line that went five-hole for the game’s first goal 7:13 into the third.

Elizabeth Lang would add an empty-netter to seal this one up late in the contest.

The win is a big one for the Dinos, who now move to 10-13-2 on the season and claim a tighter hold on the third playoff spot with three games left on their schedule. Meanwhile, defending national champion MRU moves to 18-5 and is right in middle of a tight battle near the top of the Canada West standings.

After a scoreless first that featured just 10 combined shots, the two teams opened things up a little more in the second period. With just 3:05 left in the frame, Sydney Benko had a breakaway chance, but her blast was gobbled up by the glove of Durante.

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Moments later with the Dinos on the power play, Caitlyn Perlinger had a rip from distance that seemed destined for the back of the net, only to see the puck poked away by a defender’s stick at the last second.

After a combined 21 shots between the two teams in the first two periods, the final frame featured another 21, as the teams went end to end a number of times in search of the game winner.
Less than a minute before Kollman’s goal, it looked as though it would be MRU who would get on the board first. But Durante made another highlight-level save, turning away a backhander point blank with her blocker before slamming the door on the rebound.

After a number of strong defensive moments by the Dinos going up against a desperate MRU squad the emptied its net, Calgary put this one away as Elizabeth Lang scored her 10th of the season.

Durante finished the night with 21 saves for her second shutout of the season. Kaitlyn Ross made 19 saves for the Cougars.

The teams will face off again Friday (7 p.m.) at the Flames Community Arenas.

2024 Crowchild Classic
Mount Royal Cougars fans cheer during the Crowchild Classic at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. Photo by Darren Makowichuk /Postmedia

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