Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
CARONPORT, Sask. – Cam Gotaas scored a natural hat-trick and added an assist in his first regular season game as MacEwan's new men's hockey captain, leading the Griffins to a 9-1 drubbing of the Briercrest College Clippers in the ACAC season opener for both teams on Friday night.
"I thought he did an exceptional job in making sure we came out and were focused on the task at hand," said MacEwan head coach Michael Ringrose. "The sign of a good captain is you can get people focused on the task, but you can do it without taking yourself away from your game.
"He certainly was able to do that tonight. He had the guys dialed in and ready to go and he was ready himself."
Eager to put a rusty preseason behind them, the Griffins came flying out of the gates to open the contest with 29 first period shots and quickly built a 4-0 lead on goals by Nolan Yaremchuk, Brett Njaa and two straight from Gotaas.
"We were buzzing," explained Ringrose. "We were moving our feet and skating. That's how we need to play to be successful and we know that.
"We hadn't seen that yet this year and it was refreshing. It was good to see."
Gotaas made it 5-0 with his hat-trick tally 2:04 into the second period, while Tyler Morrison and Nic Correale – with the first goal of his ACAC career – also tallied for a 7-0 lead after 40 minutes.
Pity Briercrest's Dan Dekoning – the reigning ACAC All Conference Second Team goaltender – who had faced 50 shots through just the first two periods. He wound up staring down 62 and could be well on his way to leading the conference in saves for a second-straight season.
MacEwan salted away the big victory with third-period goals from Nicolas Correale – the first of his ACAC career – and Njaa with his second of the game. Briercrest's Russell Olson spoiled Marc-Olivier Daigle's shutout bid with 98 seconds left.
"This is never an easy place to play," said Ringrose. "It's always difficult with the travel. For us to get the first one under the belt is huge and something we can build on tomorrow and moving forward. We're really happy."
The teams will meet again on Saturday afternoon (2 p.m.).