Wray, excellent special teams play propel Griffins past Kings in weekend rematch

The Griffins crash Troy Trombley's crease during Friday's match in Edmonton. MacEwan won Saturday's rematch 2-1 (Matthew Jacula photo).
The Griffins crash Troy Trombley's crease during Friday's match in Edmonton. MacEwan won Saturday's rematch 2-1 (Matthew Jacula photo).

MacEwan Athletics

PENHOLD, Alta. – Fifth-year goaltender Christopher Wray came up big with 36 saves and MacEwan's special teams were in fine form as the Griffins bounced back from a tough loss on Friday, shading the Red Deer College Kings 2-1 on Saturday night.

The result narrows RDC's advantage on second place in the tight Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference to just two points and gives the Griffins wins in three of four meetings between the rivals this season.

Should MacEwan (14-7-1-0) and RDC (15-6-1-0) require a tiebreaker for playoff positioning, the Griffins are sitting pretty with two more regulation wins and the head-to-head advantage.

"To take seven out of eight points from that team over the season is obviously something we're really happy about. It's a nice bonus," said MacEwan interim head coach Michael Ringrose.

"For me, it's more about responding. The way things went last night was obviously a tough way to lose a hockey game – giving one up late and losing in overtime. So, I was happy with the way we responded tonight."

ICYMI: Griffins were on their way to a 4-3 win over RDC on Friday at home before the Kings tied it with just over a minute remaining and won it 5-4 in 3-on-3 double overtime.

On Saturday, the Griffins avenged that defeat with a detail-oriented performance that included a goal on the power play and one right after one of their five perfect penalty kills.

"Special teams were huge all weekend," said Ringrose. "I thought our power play was good – scored some goals for us – but I thought our penalty kill, that's as good as we've killed it all year. (Red Deer's) been a pretty dynamic unit and we were able to keep them off the board.

"I was really happy with our special teams. It's been a bit of an up-and-down battle all season, but we're certainly trending in the right direction when it matters most here."

Rookie Tyler Mrkonjic opened the scoring on the PP with 4:37 left in the first period – his 14th point in eight games this January.

Right after a second-period penalty kill, MacEwan's Tyler Morrison stepped out of the box and went in alone, beating Troy Trombley to give MacEwan a 2-0 lead.

RDC's Tyler Podgorenko cut the deficit to one just over four minutes later, but Wray wasn't allowing any more on this night.

"Wrazor was good," said Ringrose. "He was very good in the first half (of the season) and, for whatever reason after Christmas, he had a couple of rough starts, but seemed to have shaken the cobwebs out and gotten himself back on track.

"He's been exceptional in practice the last little while and that carried through into the game tonight. He was a big reason why we won."

Brett Njaa had an assist to complete a four-point weekend, while Ryan Benn's helper gives him three points in the two-game set.

The Griffins now head into a bye week before returning to action on Feb. 9-10 vs. cross-town rival Concordia.