Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – One of these days, the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team is going to start a game with a bang, but as has been their disturbingly familiar Achilles' heel in 2018-19, Saturday's ACAC contest against cross-town rival Concordia began with a thud.
Again, though, they got away with it.
Down just 1-0 after an opening 20 minutes they'd rather forget at the Bill Hunter Arena, Griffins players reset themselves during an intermission meeting and went on to a 7-3 victory over the Thunder.
"Frankly, I didn't say one word after the first period," said head coach Michael Ringrose. "Our guys sorted out themselves. It was good to see because it's happened time and time again. It was nice to see the group recognize another slow start and make a conscious change and play a whole lot better in the second and third.
"I don't know if it was any one thing. I don't know what was said behind closed doors, but they were definitely a different group. Credit to our leadership."
Dallas Smith picked up where he left off on Friday (a three-point effort in a 5-1 MacEwan win) by opening the scoring for the Griffins on the powerplay 6:56 into the second period.
Concordia, which was on the board initially after Matt Benko's powerplay goal in the first period, got another one with the man advantage when Ian McLellan scored. But Ryan Baskerville put MacEwan up 5-2 heading to the intermission with his sixth goal of the season in the final minute of the frame.
"When we skate and we're first to pucks and we get our opportunities, we have some guys who can score," said Ringrose. "We got what we deserved in the second and third.
"Eric Szudor had to make some big saves for us to let us get our legs. Once we decided to start skating, we were fine."
Szudor made 24 saves to pick up the second victory of his rookie season.
Tanner McCorriston stopped 23 for Concordia.
Ultimately, the Griffins had success by rolling four lines and relying on everybody. Njaa led the way with a goal and two assists, while Tyler Morrison recorded three helpers. Holt and Smith had a goal and an assist each.
"It was pretty spread out. Once we got going, it was definitely a four-line effort," said Ringrose. "The six D all contributed."
With the result, the Griffins improve their league-leading record to 9-2-1-0, while the Thunder falls to 2-8-1-1.