Less than perfect


The University of Regina men’s hockey team can’t catch a break

What the Puck?!
Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

It has been a bit of a rocky start for the University of Regina Cougars men’s hockey team. With four games under their belts in regular season action, the men are still looking for their first win of the season.

After finishing with a 3-3-1-1 record in pre-season competition, the men’s hockey team seemed ready to test their skills in games that actually matter, instead of ones that are meaningless. Any way you look at it, preseason means nothing. Sure, it is an opportunity to see different line combinations and give the rookies a chance to impress, but they are still make-believe, pretend. It means nothing if you win them all or lose them all in the grand scheme of things.

However, if you lose your first four regular season games, you may have something to worry about. Saying the Cougars have played some of the best teams in Canada West in their first four outings would be an understatement. Regina had the luxury of taking on the highly-touted Alberta Golden Bears in their opening weekend on Oct.7-8. The Cougars were well aware that Alberta sported a 5-0-1-0 record in pre-season, but that didn’t make their back-to-back losses against the team any easier.

Regina plotted their first goal of the season when second-year forward Tyler Penny got one past Kurtis Mucha. However, it would be one of only two goals that the Cougars would register all weekend. Captain Russ Nielsen would also score in Game 1, but that would be the only offence the Cougars could muster against the Golden Bears. After losing 5-2 in Game 1, the Cougars fell 2-0 the very next night.

The Cougars’ schedule didn’t get any easier as they faced a home-and-home series against their arch-nemesis, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, on Oct. 14-15. Over the years, the Huskies have quite simply had the Cougars number, and this year seems no different.

The Cougars found themselves in a deep hole less than five minutes in as the Huskies rattled off three unanswered goals. After a goalie switch that saw Lucas Gore replace A.J. Whiffen, the Huskies still managed to put in two power-play goals before Dayton Fossum put an end to David Reekie’s bid at a shutout with a short-handed goal in the third. Less than three minutes after Fossum’s goal, Regina’s rookie defenceman John Sonntag lit the lamp for the first time in regular season action, but the late flurry just wasn’t enough.

Although the Cougars were able to play spoiler to Reekie’s shutout, they fell to the Huskies by a final score of 5-2.

The Cougars came back on night two with vengeance. Although they put up more of a fight on night two, and even led 4-3 early in the third, the Cougars just couldn’t hang on and suffered another loss at the hands of the Huskies by a score of 5-4. Scoring for the Cougars in the losing effort were Terrance DeLaronde, with two goals, Matt Strueby and Lucas Isely.

If one thing has been proven so far this season, it’s that the Cougars do not have a go-to goal scorer on their squad. Sure, they have plenty of players that can put the puck in the net and no shortage of talent, but consistency is not one of their strong points at the moment.

With the loss of last year’s captain Ryan Bender, combined with 2010-11 MVP Dillon Johnstone taking a year off and an injury to veteran forward Craig Cuthbert, the Cougars are experiencing some growing pains early this season.

So what does all of this mean for the home team? Well, one could argue that it means we suck. However, fans should not be so quick to judge the home team. To give them the benefit of the doubt, its schedule has not been very generous.

To make matters worse, the Cougars are slated to take on the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday and Sunday in hostile territory. The Bisons currently sit at the top of the Canada West standings, sporting a 4-0-0-0 record. This could spell disaster in the form of a 0-6-0-0 record for Regina.

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