Campus Life

CIS ranking suits Horns fine

Ironically, the cure for fixing the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns' penchant to split every Canada West hockey series was a sweep — in which they were the losers.

Prior to a Nov. 7-8 two-game set in Edmonton against the University of Alberta Golden Bears, the Pronghorns men's hockey team had fashioned an even 4-4-0 record. In four previous series they'd won one and lost one. The Golden Bears then blew them out 4-1 and 9-1 on successive nights and suddenly, the 'Horns snapped to attention.

"Getting whacked by U of A kind of opened everybody's eyes," Pronghorns defenceman Ryan Pottruff says. "We knew we had a good hockey team, but if we didn't want to work hard and dedicate ourselves to systems, then we were going to get blown out of the water."

A week later the 'Horns kicked off a six-game winning streak with a home-and-home sweep of Calgary Dinos that sent the team into the Christmas break with a 10-6-0 mark and a 10th place spot (they are currently ranked 9th) in the national rankings.

"They finally believed they could win two in a row," Pronghorns head coach Greg Gatto says. "It took us forever to win those first two, and now, after we won the fourth, fifth and sixth in a row, they weren't even excited because they just expected it."

Dustin Moore, the team's leading scorer and sixth-rated scorer in the league, says the first sweep proved to be an eye opener for the club.

"Once we got our first sweep, everybody got to see how easy Monday morning practices are," he says. "I think we realized if you work hard on Saturday and get that sweep, it's better for everyone."

Back in the national rankings for the first time in six years, Gatto doesn't fear his club resting on its laurels. A tough second-half schedule just won't allow for any loss of focus.

"We're pretty excited we're up there but we've also been pretty fortunate," Gatto says, noting the team's four wins over Calgary were by a combined five goals.

"We lose those four games and suddenly we're 6-10, so we're pretty realistic of where we're at. We've got a really tough second half, but the ranking gives us some confidence going in, and it is nice to see some recognition when you're doing well."