CALGARY- The sixth annual Crowchild Classic game took place at the home of the NHL's Calgary Flames inside the Scotiabank Saddledome Jan. 25 for a cross-town showdown between Mount Royal University Cougars and rivals Calgary Dinos with 10,478 in attendance.
Heading into the contest, MRU had the all-time lead on their rival separated by a mere 9.5 km, winning three of the five games.
The Dinos broke Cougar hearts by scoring in double-overtime in the contest last season and did so this year, winning the match 6-5 in a second extra time session for the third year in a row with the same fashion.
Calgary opened the scoring just over two minutes into the game on a Matt Alfaro point shot that hit Cougar defenceman Clive Rozdeba before going into the back of the net to quickly silent a predominately blue-MRU Cougar crowd early on.
The Dinos then doubled their lead on a two-on-one finished off by Tyler Coulter on his second on the season.
Calgary caught MRU on a bad line-change allowing for a quick Dino counter-attack finished off by the rookie forward.
Minutes on, captain Cougar Jamie King playing in his first game since fracturing his wrist in Regina weeks ago, chipped a rebound from a point shot from Madison Smiley to cut the Dinos lead in half all inside the first 10 minutes into the game.
Shots were 11-5 in favour of the Dinos who took a 2-1 lead into the first break.
Cougar goalie Cam Lanigan, playing in his third and final Classic, stopped nine of 11 quality chances on net.
He stopped 23 pucks on the night.
"I'd say nervous," MRU bench-boss Bert Gilling commented on the experience factor for his team. MRU has 10 first-years on their squad.
"Just by the start of our game we played nervous and tensive, we chased the puck a lot and their experience showed over us significantly but again, it was a teachable moment for our boys."
First-year rookie Hunter Zandee however, stood out from the pack and had three points in his first Classic and gave the MRU hopeful reason to believe one his goal.
He snapped a shot under the glove of Dino net-minder Matthew Greenfield 7:07 into the second period to even the game at twos.
Greenfield stopped 12 of 17.
A back-and-forth affair came down to the final frame.
Scorer of the Classic last year, David Stephens gave MRU their first lead of the game 65 seconds into the third-period when, throwing a low-driven puck on net that found its way into the Dino end.
Calgary responded shorthanded on a Ryan Gagnon wrist-shot while killing a double-minor and completely shut down MRU the rest of the penalty kill.
With the Cougars not getting much going for them in the third period, the Dinos capitalized for the fourth time in the game.
Drydn Down floated into the MRU zone and extended his stick to tap in a feed from Alfaro to put his side up 4-3 with less than five minutes left.
At 3:45 however, captain Cougar King puts his team on his back in his final Classic and netted his second of the game.
Rushing down the ice, he tossed the puck from a tight angle and put enough stick on the puck to squeeze the puck on Greenfield's short-side.
"It's a different animal this game," Gilling adding on the experience of the Crowchild Classic.
He praises his captain for the strong performance given by his first-year captain.
"It's no surprise that guys like Jamie King played the way they did."
Sophomore Tanner Olstad, also in his final Classic, put what was thought to the nail in the coffin with 2:04left in the game, after scoring on a one-timed pass from a Jamal Watson feed after he bolted end-to-end to make the pass.
Seconds on, Calgary tied the game 5-5 Ryan Graham's was at the right place at the right time to lift the puck into the top corner with 1:21 left in the game.
Heading into the third straight overtime, the Cougars had a golden chance to finish the game in the four-on-four session on the power play but failed to score where instead, it was the Dinos penalty kill that generated more chances than MRU.
Lanigan held strong and back-stopped his team into the three-on-three session.
Twenty-nine seconds into the second overtime period, Cain Franson scored the games 11th and final goal after getting a pass from Chris Collins who threaded the needle through the flat-footed MRU trio.
The rubber match is set for 7 p.m. at Father David Bauer.