Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
RED DEER – In an eerily similar script to Friday, the MacEwan Griffins got off to a slow start again in Saturday's rematch against the Red Deer College Kings.
This time, however, they dug a hole too deep. Despite a valiant third-period comeback attempt from 5-0 down, the Griffins fell short in a 6-4 defeat.
"We got behind the 8-ball early," said interim head coach Sean Ringrose. "We didn't come out ready to compete and they really took it to us in the first period. The first half of the game, they outshot us, they outplayed us. They ended up 5-0 in the second period.
"Later in the game, we decided we wanted to compete a little bit and we were able to make a comeback in the third period, but it was too little, too late."
MacEwan scored with nine seconds left to pull within one, but RDC hit an empty net at the buzzer to win by two.
Jacob Wozney and Ryley Smith scored during a first period onslaught by the Kings as they outshot MacEwan 14-3 – similarly as lopsided as Friday's 21-9 shots clock in their favour.
"I think even more so tonight's game we started very sluggish," said Ringrose. "You can't do that in this league and especially not against that team. They showed what happens when you're going to play like that. Once you go down 5-0, it's pretty tough to come back and win a game like that."
By the 7:38 mark of the second period RDC was up by five on further goals by Tyler Podgorenko, Chase Thudium and Regan Doig, chasing MacEwan starter Marc-Olivier Daigle from the crease.
Rookie Thomas Davis made nine out of nine saves the rest of the way as the Griffins began to find their legs and took the play to the Kings in the third period.
Cameron Reagan got the Griffins on the board before the second period was done, Brett Smythe scored 1:59 into the third and Spencer McLean netted his first as a Griffin to pull MacEwan within two at 13:11. With the extra attacker on, captain Cam Gotaas scored with nine seconds left to pull MacEwan within one, but it was too late.
"We've got good character in our room and we showed when we play the way we can and we compete and are doing things the right way that we're a real effective team," said Ringrose, alluding to the third period. "But when we get away from that, when we don't show up and play 60 minutes, things aren't going to go well for us."
Next up for the Griffins (1-1-0-0) is a home-and-home series against cross-town rival Concordia on Oct. 18-19. Saturday's game is at home (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).