FALUN, Alta. – Under the lights and with snow flurries falling, the MacEwan Griffins were stunned 1-0 in double overtime by the cross-town rival NAIT Ooks in the first outdoor women's hockey game in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference history on Saturday.
Megan Leblanc beat Sandy Heim with 7.1 seconds left in the three-on-three second overtime to decide the Falun Frozen Female Challenge – an outdoor contest that raised money for P.L.A.C.E. (Pigeon Lake Athletic Cultural Education Society).
Snow fell throughout the contest, which was mostly played in daylight, but due to multiple ice scrapings and a tied score went past the three-hour mark into the night. While the facility had lights, Heim's end of the rink was dark.
Still, Heim made 27 saves and gave the Griffins every chance to win the contest, but her teammates couldn't solve Kaitlyn Slator at the other end. The NAIT goaltender made 40 saves for the shutout.
There's no doubt the conditions played a factor. Despite mid-period scrapes, snow was still accumulating, which made stickhandling difficult.
Nevertheless, the experience itself was something the Griffins were looking forward to.
"As I grew up, I didn't spend as much time at the outdoor rink because you're in season," said MacEwan captain Nikki Reimer prior to the event. "We don't get that opportunity a lot, so I think everyone's really excited about it."
Prior to Leblanc's goal, the Griffins had several chances to end it, including Jayme Doyle hitting the post with three minutes left in the second overtime.
But it wasn't meant to be for MacEwan (10-3-1-0), who enter the semester break two points behind NAIT (11-2-1-0) for top spot in the ACAC standings.
Heim and Leblanc were named as players of the game for their respective teams.