Kelly-Anne Roberts, Calgary Sports Information
Photo Credit: Zenon Andryo
CALGARY – Danny Gayle punctuated the biggest goal of his life with a Superman dive at centre ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome as the University of Calgary Dinos beat the Mount Royal University Cougars 5-4 in double overtime Thursdaynight.
Gayle's Crowchild Classic heroics capped an impressive comeback for the Dinos, who were down 3-1 late in the second period in front of 11,902 boisterous spectators.
"It was a really special moment, I don't know if I've scored a bigger goal in my career and just having all the guys jump on my back, it was a really special moment," stated Gayle on his game winner. "One I won't forget."
Heading into the game Calgary was sitting just two points back of third-place Mount Royal in the Canada West standings. The double-overtime win puts Calgary just one point back with three games to play.
It didn't take long to get things going between these two crosstown rivals. Both teams exchanged chances in the early minutes of the opening frame. Cougars goaltender Colin Cooper having to make a sprawling cross-crease save to stop the Dinos from opening up the scoring. Just moments later, Dinos goalie Steven Stanford made a huge pad save kicking out a shot taken from the top of the circle.
Mount Royal would net the first goal of the game, on the power play. Cougars captain Matt Brown made a quick fake on the Calgary defence before putting his 13th of the year five-hole through Stanford. Grant Baker added a helper on the play.
Calgary tied the game just past the midway point of the first period when Jared Hauf beat Cooper with a wrist shot from the point.
The Cougars reclaimed their lead just over a minute later. On the power play, Jamal Watson redirected Jesse Lees' point shot in, and Connor Rankin picked up an assist to give the Cougars a one-goal lead after 20 minutes of play.
Looking to tie the game up in the second period, Calgary's Adam Kambeitz couldn't finish after a quick passing play on the power play as Cooper got the pad down to keep his teams lead.
Mount Royal would add to its lead when David Stephens cut in between both Dinos D-men and waited Stanford out before sliding the puck between the post and Stanford's skate.
The Dinos fought back cutting the Cougars' lead to one. Dylan Walchuk redirected a shot from Dylan Busenius on the half-wall past an unsuspecting Cooper.
In the dying seconds of the second period Kambeitz tied the game up off of Busenius who had his shot redirected again – this time from the point.
The Dinos took the lead for the first time with just under six minutes remaining in the third, on a two-man advantage. Cain Franson hit Elgin Pearce backdoor, and the Dinos' leading scorer went upstairs on Cooper to take the lead 4-3.
The Cougars made the intense game even more interesting when on the power play, they pulled Cooper to have a two-man advantage. Calgary blocked several shots, before the puck landed on Rankin's stick. Right on Stanford's doorstep, Rankin put it high and in sending the game into overtime.
One overtime would not be enough. In the three-on-three double OT, Brown put one off the post before the play shifted down into the Cougars zone. Kambeitz fed Busenius who was stopped by Cooper. Kambeitz took a whack at it, but it was Gayle who put the backhand home for the game-winner.
"It was really special, getting the support from all the U of C fans and kinda getting it from the MRU fans was really fun and interesting," explained Gayle. "Just being from Calgary a lot of my friends and family were here so it was really special to score the goal in front of them."
The two teams will square again Friday night at the Flames Community Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
"We have to transition, just like [Coach Howell] said after the game it's fun and we're going to enjoy this one for a little bit but at the end of the day we're still behind them in the standings," said Gayle. "We have to bring the same effort tomorrow if we're going to be able to get a victory and hopefully we can get that done and pass them in the standings and set ourselves up well for the playoffs."