Jason Hills, For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Fleetwood Mac's late concert cancellation wasn't the only thing out of tune Saturday night at Rogers Place.
One night after the MacEwan Griffins stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to crush the UAlberta-Augustana Vikings 8-3, the Griffins' were out of sync.
Reed Gunnville's power play marker with 49 seconds left in the game stung MacEwan as the Vikings walked away with a 2-1 victory at the Downtown Community Arena.
Brett Smythe scored the lone marker for MacEwan, while Ben Lanfermann tallied the other marker for UAA.
MacEwan drops to 7-2-1-0 this in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, while the victory improves UAA to 6-4-0-0.
"Last night we started slow, but as the game wore on we got stronger. Mentally we were dialled in and we limited our mental errors. Tonight, we were the complete opposite," said Griffins head coach Michael Ringrose.
"We were sharp early on, but then we just lost it. In the end, it was a nice shot in a power play situation that ended up beating us, but there were many opportunities that could've ended up in the back of the net before that."
MacEwan came out strong in the opening frame, dictating the play and looking to take an early lead, but Vikings goaltender Zach deGraves kept the Griffins off the scoresheet.
DeGraves made 32 saves in the victory to improve to 4-1 this season.
A late power play in the first period gave the Vikings some momentum and Lanfermann's first goal of the season opened the scoring with just 1:05 remaining in the first period.
Lanfermann was able to get a stick on the puck in the crease that bounced off the pad of Griffins goaltender Marc-Olivier Daigle and off the post and in.
The late goal sparked the Vikings and they took control in the second period, but Daigle kept the Griffins in the game. The veteran goaltender made 28 saves in the loss. Daigle's record drops to 6-2 in the loss.
"Our defence off the rush was terrible tonight. It's as simple as I can put it. Off the rush we were awful. They had far too many good scoring chances because of it," said Ringrose.
MacEwan did push back offensively in the second period, but they weren't able to capitalize on their quality scoring chances.
"There are games where the bounces are going to go against you, and you have to be playing the right way to be able to fight through those times and we didn't do that enough tonight," said Ringrose.
MacEwan tied the game just 14 seconds into the third period as Smythe crashed the crease to bang in the loose puck to tie the game at 1-1, but the Griffins weren't able to generate much momentum off the tying marker.
Far too often MacEwan was making the one too many passes and over-complicating things offensively.
"We showed good resiliency to come back in the third period again. There are lots of lessons we can take from this game. We tied the game back up, but we didn't push back enough and we were on our heels," said Ringrose.
"We just weren't keeping the game simple enough and we were trying to do too much."
The Griffins looked to be headed to overtime, but another late penalty proved costly.
The team's penalty kill has been very strong all year long, and despite giving up both goals with the man-advantage the Griffins PK was once again solid. It just came down to a little miscue on the game-winning goal and a perfect shot from Gunnville to seal the victory.
"I didn't think we gave up much on the PK all night. The first was a bad break that went off our stick off the post and off our goalie and in," said Ringrose.
"The second one, we're in a good spot, but we don't seal off the top and they're able to come off the wall and make a perfect shot. I'm not going to point to the PK and say it was a breakdown there.
"I'm happy with our PK, it's been great all year, but tonight the bounces weren't there for us. We've had some go our way this year, and tonight the bounces went against us."
MacEwan will look to rebound with a two-game set against the Concordia Thunder next weekend (Nov. 16-17).