EDMONTON – Kendra Hanson ended a marathon title fight-like match in favour of the homestanding NAIT Ooks with a goal eight seconds into the second overtime period on Friday night.
After winning the draw and sneaking two players in behind the Griffins in 3-on-3 play in the second OT, Hanson beat Sandy Heim to give NAIT a 3-2 victory.
"Perfect execution by them," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine of a game that could have gone either way between the top two teams in the ACAC standings.
The Griffins opened the scoring at 14:46 of the first period when Jaime Erickson jumped off the half wall and buried a rebound past NAIT goaltender Karlee Fetch.
And then a three-goal second period deluge. The Ooks tied the game three minutes into the frame on Megan Leblanc's power-play tally.
Griffins forward Chantal Ricker restored MacEwan's lead at 7:14 with her own power-play tally, walking out from behind the net and jamming it past Fetch on the second try.
But NAIT tied it back up again less than two minutes later when Livia Lucova beat Heim.
"The first three goals were all scored on the powerplay," said McAlpine. "Special teams on both sides were firing pretty well."
Heim made 32 saves for the Griffins, including stopping a breakaway in the dying seconds of the third period that kept alive MacEwan's run without a loss in regulation this season. A minute or two earlier, the Griffins had a golden chance to win the game themselves, but couldn't convert a cross-crease pass in front of Fetch, who finished with 25 saves for the Ooks.
"It had all the makings of a playoff matchup," said McAlpine. "It was a pretty good turnout in the arena. It was an emotionally-invested game on both sides – exactly what I expected out of NAIT vs. MacEwan. I do think it was a great game. It went back and forth.
"I think it's a good challenge for us now to see what we can do tomorrow."
The Griffins remain atop the ACAC standings at 8-0-3, while the Ooks, with two games in hand, continue climbing, now at 7-2-0.
They'll meet again on Saturday night (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena). Fans can get in free by bringing a donation of kids' pajamas for the PJs by Olivia promotion to help the Stollery Children's Hospital.