Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – What bye week?
Despite, not playing a game in 14 days, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team had no rust of any kind to shake off on Saturday night.
They roared out of the gates with a three-goal, 23-shot first period and cruised the rest of the way to hand the visiting Olds College Broncos a 5-1 shellacking at the Downtown Community Arena.
"I think that was a really good start for us, especially with this push going into playoffs," said defenceman Carley Jewell, who led the Griffins with a goal and two assists. "It was good to get a good start coming off the bye weekend."
Olds goaltender Jaydlin Spooner – who has faced the most shots of any netminder in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference this season – was under siege for much of the evening, often left on her own as the Griffins crashed the net with aplomb.
At 12:34, Jewell split the defence and got a shot off that was stopped, but Chantal Ricker charged in untouched, flipping the rebound over Spooner's outstretched right pad.
Before the first period was done, the Griffins made it 3-0 as the Olds defence again lost track of Ricker, who snuck in to put a Raven Beazer rebound over Spooner's outstretched left pad this time.
"I thought we played quite well for our first 20, which has been a struggle for us in the past (coming off bye weeks)," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine.
"We made defence and the defensive side of the puck a focus for today. The girls bought into that for the majority of it. We did get some really good net traffic and some good goals and I think built that momentum early on."
Although the shot counter slowed for the Griffins as the game progressed (11 in the second and eight shots in the third), they never conceded control of the contest.
Jamie Reimer was stopped by Spooner on a breakaway late in the middle frame, but just over a minute later, Jewell would not be denied. She steamed in down the left wing, took a pass from Bell, muscled to the net around a defender and knifed a backhand just under Spooner's blocker.
And MacEwan's leading scorer wasn't done wrapping up a dominant night that earned her player of the game honours. With 6:53 remaining in the third period, Jewell, deked out a defender, cruised into the slot and served up a beautiful dish to Amanda Murray at the side of the net for a 5-0 MacEwan lead.
"That was a really good look for her to be in that spot," she said. "It just kind of opened up and she was there."
Olds ruined Sandy Heim's shutout bid a minute later when Kali Cummings found the puck in a scramble outside the crease and poked it past the line.
Heim made 15 saves for MacEwan (15-3-3), while Spooner stopped 37 of 42 for Olds (6-16-1-0).
After a three-point night, Jewell is now up to 17 points in 21 games this season, while Ricker pushed her team lead for goals to nine and has 12 points in 16 games.
"Jewell's been a powerful force for us all year and continues to be," said McAlpine. "I know she'll be a focal point for us in playoffs.
"Ricker's really found her stride in the second half. She's stepped into a bigger role with a few injuries we've had and she's just thriving right now."
The first game of the weekend series between the teams was supposed to be played on Thursday night, but it was postponed due to inclement weather. It's now on the schedule for next Thursday, which means the Griffins, who will travel to Calgary Friday to meet SAIT and then host them on Saturday, Feb. 17, will be playing three nights in a row.
"It would have been nicer to play two this week, but it worked out," said Jewell.
"I think that's important to play three in a row. It will be good prep for playoffs when we have back-to-back-to-back games."