It was a game that couldn’t have packed much more into an evening of hockey.
Bone-crushing hits, shots off the post, smooth moves at the net and special teams goals were just a sample of what the University of Calgary Dinos and the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey teams served up Friday.
In the end, it was the Huskies skating to a 5-4 shootout victory that had included two periods of overtime hockey.
It might not have been a dream debut for Canada West men’s hockey at the new Merlis Belsher Place, but the 2,275 people in attendance stood and roared in celebration to end the night.
“Everybody got 22 bucks worth,” Huskies head coach Dave Adolph joked after the game.
“It could have gone either way tonight. They had a couple of chances late and we had a couple of great ones on power plays that we didn’t finish. Is it a good way (to christen Merlis Belsher Place)? Sure, but I was uncomfortable the whole night.”
The game ended with Huskies goaltender Taran Kozun saving all three Dinos shootout attempts after Collin Shirley netted the Huskies only shootout goal.
In the second period, it was Huskies captain Jesse Forsberg scoring his team’s first goal as he outwaited Dinos netminder Jordan Papirny on a two-on-one to slide the puck in backhanded and send Merlis Belsher Place into a frenzy.
“It feels awesome,” Forsberg said after the game. “I think maybe we were a little up tight today with the new building and stuff, so to get the win today, grind it out feels really good.”
The teams would trade goals throughout much of the night until the Huskies countered with two consecutive markers for a 4-3 lead in the third period. As penalties began to mount, it was the Dinos scoring with just over five minutes left in regulation.
Riley Sheen, Cain Franson, Logan Fisher and Graham Black scored for the Dinos.
The Huskies were led by goals from Forsberg, Shirley, Carter Folk and Logan Tkatch.
If there’s one thing fans should look out for in the Saturday rematch (7 p.m. at Merlis Belsher Place) is to see if any of Friday’s aggression continues.
The skilled goals and booming shots were matched by late hits, knees and checks from behind that included a few controversial calls from both referees.
In all, 79 penalty minutes were dished out over 22 infractions, but Adolph isn’t concerned with the aggressive play that seemed to teeter over the line Friday.
“There’s eight teams in our league and two teams go to a national championship,” he said. “Everybody tries to get home-ice advantage. Everybody is extremely competitive and when you have that type of competitiveness, I think you can expect that, if you’re pushing me, I’m pushing you.”
“Everybody’s trying to push and create an advantage, hoping that somebody snaps and breaks. It’s the way the game is played.”