Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
RED DEER – The margin for error came down to a missed pass on the powerplay.
Red Deer College's Julia Murrell turned that into a breakaway and a short-handed goal that would stand up as the winner in a 1-0 decision over the MacEwan Griffins in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's hockey action Thursday night.
"We had a missed pass on a powerplay and it ended up bouncing right into them," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine of the moment at 12:24 of the first period. "A girl went in and kind of caught Sandy (Heim) with a nice move.
"The game halted at that point. We just didn't generate a ton. We were scrambly in our D zone. They were probably equally as scrambly. It was kind of one of those hockey games."
A muck-it-up, grind-it-out type special that the Griffins don't really want to be caught up in.
"It wasn't a great game either way," said McAlpine. "It was really choppy, scrambly. Neither team really generated any great offensive opportunities."
Heim made 20 saves for MacEwan, while Red Deer's Tracie Kukuchi stopped all 19 for the shutout.
The low scoring affair was reminiscent of last season's first round playoff battle between the teams, which featured stingy defensive formations, backed up by the aforementioned goalies, who refused to allow much of anything.
"Especially the second game (of the playoff series), that was just unbelievable," said Heim of the 1-0 win that was decided in triple overtime. "I don't know how we did that. Both teams had great chances and so many times it could have gone in."
Don't look now, but it's possible, even probable, that the Griffins and Queens meet again in the first round.
MacEwan (12-2-3-0) has a slim lead for first in the ACAC standings over NAIT (12-2-1-0), but the Ooks have two games in hand. RDC (10-4-2) is most likely headed for the third seed (which meets No. 2 in the first round – whichever team finishes behind in the Griffins-Ooks race).
The Griffins are aware of that heading into Saturday's rematch with the Queens (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).
"I think the biggest message we have going into Saturday is we have a high likelihood to face Red Deer in the playoffs and this is our last chance to see them for a good chunk of time," said McAlpine.
"The girls were not disillusioned, by any means. They know they didn't play a great game and they know what they need to do differently. It really just comes down to our execution of it and the systems that they play."