Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – During a season of goal-scoring misfortune, the MacEwan Griffins have been guilty more than a few times of shooting from the perimeter, not crashing the crease, not paying the price to score.
That certainly wasn't the case on Saturday night.
They did all the right things, but the result, unfortunately, turned out the same: MacEwan could only muster one goal on 44 shots, going unrewarded for a dominant game in a 2-1 loss to the Red Deer College Queens at the Downtown Community Arena.
"I feel like this is the story of the Griffins 2018-19," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "It's been one of those situations where we talk about it a lot as a coaching staff and that doesn't seem to work, so we stop talking about it. Of course, we always talk about the process of getting shots on net, shot selection and traffic, but it doesn't seem to work either way right now."
Offence didn't work for the Griffins on Saturday because they ran into a hot goaltender. Karlee Fetch produced one of the best games the DCA has seen this season with 43 saves, several of the highlight-reel variety.
"Would we in most situations come out on top in a game like this? Absolutely," said McAlpine. "This was just a game where Fetch … I would argue that she stole the game.
"We had that net-front traffic today, we had girls crashing. We had people in the paint for deflections. She just played a great game."
RDC, meanwhile, only put 25 shots on Griffins goaltender Sandy Heim, but they opened the scoring late in the second period when Victoria Johnston converted a Neisha Germann pass from right circle.
With the Griffins unable to get the equalizer, the Queens got an insurance marker with 2:57 left in the game when Mariah McKersie drove wide, and Heim got a piece of her shot before Kaitlyn Linnell tapped the rebound into an open net.
With Heim pulled for an extra attacker, Kyrelle Skoye broke Fetch's shutout by crashing the crease to score with 24 seconds left.
"A game is never won or lost based on how many shots you put on net," said McAlpine. "The shots were about 18-4 when they scored their goal. So, the tide turns very quickly, and I think we need to be aware of that.
"The other thing we can take away is we scored on the 6-on-5 when we had our goalie pulled and we don't often get into those situations or have a chance to practice those opportunities, so it was valuable for us.
"I think we just need to carry that momentum into a series against Red Deer."
With the result, the Griffins fall to 14-5-2-0 on the season, while RDC improves to 9-9-4-0. That all but officially locks them in as the No. 2 and 3 seeds in the ACAC, respectively, meaning they are destined to meet in the first round of the playoffs in three weeks.
Despite the result, it's a game the Griffins can build from as they close out the regular season with games against Olds College Feb. 21 and 23, as well as fit a yet-to-be announced makeup road game at SAIT that was postponed from Jan. 26 before hosting RDC in the post-season.
"Systematically, it was probably one of our strongest games of the season," said McAlpine. "I thought we had dipped in our emotional intensity and investment in the past few weekends and this was exactly what I asked of them.
"I thought they came out from the outset of the game and did a bunch of little things we'd asked of them. I thought in a game that doesn't really matter, we found a lot of emotion."