Griffins score four power-play goals, blanking NAIT Ooks to salvage weekend split

The Griffins put plenty of pressure on NAIT goalie Kaitlyn Slator on Friday but couldn't beat her. A night later, though, they broke through for a 4-0 win (Matthew Jacula photo).
The Griffins put plenty of pressure on NAIT goalie Kaitlyn Slator on Friday but couldn't beat her. A night later, though, they broke through for a 4-0 win (Matthew Jacula photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Solving problems that had crept into their game early in the ACAC season, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team scored four power play goals to blank NAIT 4-0 on Saturday and salvage a weekend split with their cross-town rival.

Yes, the defending champs can still score, in case you were wondering after watching them blanked on 35 tries in a 1-0 loss to the Ooks at home on Friday.

"We talked about it with the girls," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "Once we got the monkey off our back, we knew we'd start to get things going. That's exactly what happened."

Another takeaway: Yes, it does cost you to take penalties against the Griffins, too. Opponents were surely beginning to wonder after MacEwan opened the season with just one powerplay goal on 28 chances in their first five games prior to Saturday.

On Saturday, though, they were lethal with the man advantage, going 4-for-5 at NAIT Arena in a big statement.

 "We've been struggling on the powerplay, which is usually very strong for us and has been the last couple of seasons," said McAlpine. "But for whatever reason this year we've been struggling.

"We've got similar lineups to what we had on our powerplay last year," she continued. "We just went back to what we're good at on the powerplay and what works for us, not forcing plays and good movement up top. We were able to open it up and capitalize on them."

Dominique Scheurer opened the scoring just a minute into the game when she took a D-to-D pass from Carley Jewell and slapped it past goalie Kaitlyn Slator on the blocker side.

That was it for scoring until the third period when the floodgates opened for MacEwan.

Just 2:48 into the final frame, Jewell walked down the left side and Raven Beazer redirected her hard pass into the top corner.

Kyrelle Skoye made it 3-0 with 5:11 left when she sifted a point shot in off a bunch of traffic in front.

Jaime Erickson then capped the night with maybe the nicest tally yet, converting a beautiful back-door feed from Scheurer with 2:12 remaining.

"All of the goals were actually quite pretty, which is quite rare for us," chuckled McAlpine.

Jill MacWilliam paced the Griffins with three assists.

Sandy Heim made 25 saves for the 10th regular season shutout of her ACAC career and second of the 2018-19 campaign. In two games against NAIT this weekend, the Griffins veteran allowed just one goal on 46 shots.

"We went with Sandy again because we were really searching for that split," said McAlpine. "She played great yesterday and our team plays confident in front of her. That's exactly what we needed."

The fact MacEwan was able to rally after losing their first of the season on Friday is the most important thing about the win.

"The best part of our game was the response," said McAlpine. "I thought we started excellent in the first period. That's what we hoped for from the players and that's what we got.

"I think again we just needed to prove to ourselves that we could score goals. Now that we have against one of the top teams in our league, I think it will hopefully give us momentum going into Red Deer next weekend."

MacEwan (5-1-0-0) will next meet RDC (2-2-0-0) on Friday (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena), while NAIT (4-2-0-0) has a bye until Nov. 2 when they'll host SAIT.