In one of the more anticipated series’ of the young Canada West Men’s Hockey season, the University of Alberta Golden Bears
hockey team will battle their rival Calgary Dinos
, this weekend in a home-and home series. The Dinos will host Game 1 on Friday night, before the series heads north for Saturday night’s tilt at Clare Drake Arena.
Saturday night’s game is scheduled for a 5:00 p.m. start time in Edmonton, and will also be available on Canada West TV.
Following two weeks of conference play, the Bears and Dinos find themselves in a familiar spot: ranking in the top half of the Canada West standings. Alberta and Calgary have combined to win seven of their eight games this season, with the only loss between them a 2-1 overtime loss for Calgary against Lethbridge. Not only have the two earned 15 of a possible 16 points, they have also dominated on the scoresheet. The Bears own the league’s best goal differential (+17), while Calgary enters the weekend third (+14).
Both program’s strong play were also reflected in the latest U SPORTS Top Ten. Alberta ranks second behind only the two-time defending national champion UNB Varsity Reds, while the Dinos jumped up to No. 6. Saskatchewan (No. 3) is the only other Canada West team to crack the U SPORTS Top ten.
This weekend’s battle of Alberta not only showcases two of the hottest teams in the country, but also some of the best goaltending talent. All four of the goalies who have seen action this season have been stellar for their respective clubs. Alberta’s Brendan Burke and Zach Sawchenko have allowed just four combined goals on 85 shots, while Calgary’s Matthew Greenfield and Jordan Papirny have allowed just four goals on 109 shots. Greenfield’s 0.96 goals against average and .966 save percentage are tops in Canada West.
The Golden Bears own the conference’s second-highest scoring offence (21 goals scored), thanks in large part to a trio of passing experts. Luke Philp (9), Trevor Cox (6), and Stephane Legault (5) ranked first, second, and sixth in Canada West in assists this season, combining for 20 in four games. Philp’s nine helpers are also the most in U SPORTS.
While Alberta has relied upon a trio of forwards to drive their offence, Calgary owns one of the deepest offensive units in the conference. 10 different players have scored for the Dinos this season, with Coda Gordan and Riley Sheen’s three goals each leading the team. That depth was on full display last weekend, as they scored 13 goals in a series sweep of UBC.
The recent history between these two rivals has been anything but ordinary. The conference matchups have slightly favoured Calgary over the past two seasons, while the playoff picture is the complete opposite. The Dinos own a 4-3-1 record against Alberta since 2015, including a pair of wins over the Bears last season. The playoff history, however, heavily favours the Bears. Alberta knocked off the Dinos in last year’s Canada West semifinal, which represented their 15th-consecutive series sweep against Calgary in the playoffs.