Griffins roll into playoffs in fine form with dominant shutout of Broncos

Sandy Heim stopped all 16 shots she faced in the final home regular season game of her career as the Griffins blanked the Olds College Broncos 2-0 (Len Joudrey photo).
Sandy Heim stopped all 16 shots she faced in the final home regular season game of her career as the Griffins blanked the Olds College Broncos 2-0 (Len Joudrey photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Rolling into playoffs in top form, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team flattened the Olds College Broncos in their regular season finale on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena.

Their 2-0 win can't officially be called a blowout, but in reality, it was – a 41-16 beatdown in shots on goal with MacEwan holding the majority of puck possession throughout the evening.

"I always wish for a 5-0 or 6-0 game and it could have been that way," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "But we spoke a lot about game management. We're in that playoff mentality where 'what do we do in each of these scenarios?' I thought we bought into the systematic play.

"It did maybe make for not as exciting a game, but we still put 41 shots on net and generated lots of offensive chances."

With the victory, the Griffins finish the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season in second place with a 17-5-2-0 record and will face No. 3 Red Deer College (10-9-5-0) in the opening round of the playoffs – a best-of-three series starting next week (exact dates TBA).

"I just spoke to them in there and I think we're trending in the direction we need to be moving heading into the playoffs," said McAlpine. "I think we're playing as a team and we're getting secondary scoring. That's kind of what you need in playoffs because usually the first line gets shut down."

Olds (7-16-1-0) still made the playoffs despite the loss and a SAIT victory at NAIT, winding up tied with the Trojans for fourth place but claiming the regulation wins tiebreaker.

On Saturday, the Broncos stayed within striking distance throughout the game due to the play of goaltender Lexi Bruce, who made 39 saves.

The Griffins spent much of the first period sending shots through traffic from the point and attempting to score off tips, screens and rebounds. Finally, with 3:30 left in the opening frame that plan worked when Kyrelle Skoye sifted a point shot through three or four bodies and past Bruce for what would stand up as the game-winner.

"We've been really focusing on getting pucks to the net and getting our forwards to crash the net," said the third-year assistant captain who was named player of the game for the Griffins. "Jordyn (Reimer) make a nice pass to me and I just threw it on net. I was just hoping for the best and it went in. It's nice to get rewarded for that."

Jaime Erickson added an insurance marker with 8:20 left in the second period after Dominique Scheurer fed her a nice pass on a 3-on-2 and she sent a blast through Bruce's wickets.

Sandy Heim took care of the rest, stopping all 18 shots she faced for her fourth shutout of the 2018-19 campaign.

"She's huge. She's been unreal for us all season and the past four years," said Skoye of her goaltender. "It's great to have her back there and we all have confidence when she's playing good."

The shutout was a special memento for Heim on Senior Night where she was one of five graduating players honoured in a pre-game ceremony. Scheurer, Nikki Reimer, Raven Beazer and Katresa Shwetz formed the starting lineup (with Skoye) – a nice sendoff after their stellar careers. All contributed to the win on Saturday.

"Sandy Heim with the shutout – great way to go out," said McAlpine. "Raven always gives us that consistency and Domi had some good offensive looks, some great plays on the powerplay. Nikki Reimer, intense competitor for us. It's rare when Nikki goes out there and is ever OK with anything less than a massive win. And Kat, to step into a role in her first game of the season when our team is peaking, she did a really good job."

Posing with head coach Lindsay McAlpine before Saturday's game are graduating women's hockey seniors Raven Beazer, left, Nikki Reimer, Katresa Shwetz, Dominique Scheurer and Sandy Heim (Len Joudrey photo).