Butler and the Dinos aim to build off of Alberta sweep
In Dustin Butler’s five-year Western Hockey League career, he’s known some tough arenas to play in. And during his three-year post-secondary career with the University of Calgary Dinos, the 23-year-old goaltender has discovered nothing is harder than playing in the Clare Drake Arena, home of the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
“In the past years I’ve been here, we’ve beat them at home a few times but we’ve never been able to complete a sweep up there,” said Butler, who had stops in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Kamloops Blazers and Portland Winterhawks. “I don’t know if it’s an intimidating place to play, but if you let them dictate the game and play their game, they’re not going to lose very often in their own rink.
“They’re a speedy, skilled team. If you give them time and space, they’re going to make you pay pretty quick.”
The Dinos jumped out to a 2-0 lead, which is unheard of during a road game against U of A. And even though the Golden Bears hit the scoresheet with a pair of goals late in the second period, U of C’s captain Aaron Richards scored the game-winner.
The 3-2 victory last Friday was followed up on Saturday at home with a 1-0 shutout against the fourth-ranked team in the country.
It was the team’s first win at U of A since October 2006, the first sweep of the Golden Bears since January 2008, and the first time U of A had been shut out in Canada West play since October 2005.
“It was definitely a big relief to see that we can actually win there,” said Butler, who was also named the November-December Husky WHL grad of the month. “We’ve had successful periods there but never strung together a good 60 minutes.
“For our team, it’s a good step forward in showing that we are a good team.”
Against U of A, Butler, who is benefiting this year from newly hired goaltending coach and former WHLer Brad Kirkwood, also padded his Canada West stats, which are tops in the conference with a 1.92 goals against average and a 9.35 save percentage in 14 starts.
After his performance against the Golden Bears, Butler claimed CIS athlete of the week honours.
Meanwhile, as a team, the Dinos climbed to No. 9 in the weekly CIS top 10 rankings.
But no one is patting themselves on the back just yet.
“There’s more important things for us to worry about, I find, than being ranked,” Butler said. “It’s way too tight in Canada West to be worrying about national rankings.
“The bottom four of the top five are separated by one or two points. It’s pretty tight going right now.”
Heading into the University of Saskatchewan for a two-game series this weekend at Saskatoon’s Rutherford Rink, the Dinos (11-6-2) are only ahead of the Huskies (11-7-0) by two points.
A weekend sweep would mean U of C would be in a tie for first place with U of A with 28 points.
If the University of Manitoba Bisons sweep Regina this weekend, they also will be tied for first place. Talk about a log-jam. However, for the Dinos, riding the confidence they built from last weekend will be huge.
“Winning on the road is important but for us, we’ve had some tough losses (at U of A) the past two years,” he said. “I think it builds confidence and trust and belief in what we’ve been talking about.”
Following the Christmas break, the team welcomed the return of captain Aaron Richards, who was medically cleared to play. With the addition of former WHLer Walker Wintoneak, who attended the Boston Bruins fall camp and decided to utilize his scholarship money, U of C is rich in scoring talent.
Wintoneak, Richards and fifthyear Torrie Wheat have combined for 20 points in five games.
“Adding those two guys has provided us a lot of depth,” Howell said. “We have two or three offensive lines now that can score just because we’ve managed to put people in different positions.
“The one thing I do like is the depth of our forward group.”
Dinos hit pool
Headlined by London 2012 Olympic hopefuls Erica Morningstar and Jason Block, the U of C swim team heads off to UBC’s Aquatic Centre in Vancouver to compete at the Canada West championships this weekend.
They’re a speedy, skilled team. DINOS’ DUSTIN BUTLER ON THE U OF A GOLDEN BEARS
The women are chasing their eighth title while the men are searching for their 20th Canada West banner.
Last year marked the first time the Dinos had won both the men’s and women’s national banners together in the same season.
U of C will host the 2011 CIS swimming championships from Feb. 24 through Feb. 26 at the UC Aquatic Centre. The last time nationals were in Calgary was back in 1973.
Rivals square off
The women’s and men’s basketball and volleyball teams from SAIT and Mount Royal University will square off in an intense weekend of crosstown rivalry.
The SAIT men’s basketball team (8-6) will clash with the Cougars (11-3) while the unbeaten Trojan ladies (14-0) are taking on the Cougars (12-2).
In volleyball, the SAIT men (11-5 and winners of six straight), are facing MRU (6-7). The unbeaten Cougars (13-0) are up against the Trojan women (8-8).
Both schools will teaming up with KidSport Calgary this weekend to raise awareness and money for the organization. They’ll be fundraising through raffles, 50/50 proceeds, T-shirt sales and a portion of gate receipts from the weekend. All money will be pooled together and presented to KidSport Calgary representatives on Feb. 12 at the SAIT/MRU men’s hockey clash at the SAIT Arena.
This weekend’s games are also free for local KidSport Calgary families.