Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Ryan Smyth made a living for the Edmonton Oilers parked in front of the net, paying the price with Sherwoods to the back and slapshots to the teeth.
It's a job for nothing less than a true warrior.
For the MacEwan Griffins, Ryan Baskerville fills the role on a nightly basis. Occasionally, he becomes the star of the proceedings, such as Saturday night when he scored twice off rebounds and added an assist to pace MacEwan to a 4-1 win over the Red Deer College Kings at the Downtown Community Arena.
"That was his best game of the year for us tonight. He was exceptional," said Griffins interim head coach Michael Ringrose. "He went to the hard areas and he was willing to compete and he was rewarded for it.
"I really liked his weekend. If he wasn't our top guy this weekend, he was in our top three. He was exceptional both nights. That's what we need from him on a consistent basis."
Baskerville was a driving force behind MacEwan's opening goal of the game when, just under two minutes into the second period, he jammed away at a puck in front of RDC goalie Troy Trombley. Cam Gotaas also got a touch on the puck before Trombley, unable to find it between his pads, inadvertently put it in his own net.
That one was credited to Gotaas, but Baskerville had two of his own later to put the game out of reach.
After Nolan Yaremchuk put the Griffins up 2-0 when he picked a defender's pocket and went in alone at 8:38 of the middle frame, the Kings stayed close when Dylan Baer sent a power-play point shot past a screened Marc-Olivier Daigle two minutes later.
With just 27 seconds left in the second, Baskerville restored a two-goal cushion for the home side when he parked in front and put the rebound off Jacob Schofield's shot under the bar.
He scored again less than four minutes into the third period when he found a Nakehko Lamothe rebound, spun and tucked it five-hole on Trombley.
"I've been kind of snake-bitten to start the year off," the fourth-year forward said. "I'm just trying to do what I can do and use my big body in front of the net. I was lucky to get some rebounds and be able to pot them tonight."
He almost had the hat trick on a brief MacEwan two-man advantage midway through the third but chipped a rebound over the net.
Baskerville is setting an example for his teammates of what it takes to be successful. In other words, there's no picture on the scorecard.
"A goal's a goal. It doesn't have to be a snipe or a dangle," he said. "As long as it crosses the goal-line (it counts). I'm a fourth-year guy. I want to be able to contribute. Any goal's a good goal."
Ringrose points to a key penalty kill in the first period as another key to the team's success on Saturday. The Kings were without a shot for almost the first 14 minutes of the game, but then poured on the pressure with a two-man advantage for a full two minutes late in the opening frame.
"I thought that was obviously a big kill for us in the first period," said Ringrose. "We came out with probably our best start of the year. I thought we were very good early in that game and we weren't rewarded for it. Then we had that big kill and we needed to kind of hold the fort through that to really give ourselves a chance to get going. I thought Marc was exceptional in the net. He made a couple big saves there. As a unit, our PK was very good in that situation and allowed us to get out of it unscathed and get it going."
After sweeping RDC (also beating them 6-2 on Friday), MacEwan has erased a slow start to the 2017-18 season and moved back to .500 (4-4-0).
"It was an important two weeks for us to get back to the way we want to play and really solidify an identity for our team," said Ringrose. "We feel better about our group coming out of those two weeks and I think it showed in this weekend. We were certainly better than the last time out.
"It's a process, for sure, over the course of a season. Sometimes you need to take a step backward before you can take a step forward and this weekend was certainly a step forward for us."