Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
RED DEER – Zach Webb buried the game-winner with 1:54 left as the MacEwan Griffins gained some ground on the Red Deer College Kings in a bid to catch them for second place in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men's hockey standings with a 4-2 win on Friday night.
The teams traded leads earlier in the game, but it was ultimately the Griffins who recovered from a 2-1 second-period deficit and overcame a 32-17 disparity on the shot clock to improve to 10-5-0-0 in the standings.
RDC (12-2-1-0) remains five points ahead of MacEwan for second place – a key position in the conference come playoff time when the top-two squads earn first-round byes. NAIT (14-1-0-0) is three points ahead of the Kings for first.
"We kind of bent, didn't break tonight and when it came down to the third period, we continued to stick with it and started generating a couple chances a few shifts in a row and were rewarded with a goal," said MacEwan interim head coach Sean Ringrose. "To battle back against a good team in Red Deer in their home rink is a real good time for a team."
Webb's goal came on a bit of a broken play. Jordan Taupert sent in an outside shot off the rush, which deflected over to Webb, driving at the side of the net, and he banged it past RDC goaltender Nathan Alalouf.
"We were able to kill off a couple penalties right before that and that was huge for our group," said Ringrose. "We needed to have a push to get one. We had a couple good shifts in a row and were fortunate to get a bounce like that after it was a grind to get shots through all night.
"They did a really good job tonight blocking shots and getting in lanes. We directed a lot of shots towards the net and not a lot of them got through. We kept shooting the puck and, as a result, got a bounce off their defenceman and ended up putting in the winning goal."
Kole Gable hit an empty net with 28 seconds left to seal the result.
Gotaas opened the scoring with 1:30 left in the first period, taking a drop pass from Bryan Arneson and ripping a shot the bounced up over Alalouf's blocker and in.
After RDC replied with a pair of second-period markers from Scott Ferguson, Gotaas was at it again, taking a shot that Reagan deflected in for the tying goal just 24 seconds before the middle frame expired.
In the midst of it all, Griffins goalie Marc-Olivier Daigle made 30 saves to keep the homestanding Kings at bay. Ringrose noted he was a difference-maker, but the game wasn't nearly as lopsided as the shot disparity makes it appear.
"I thought we generated more chances than we probably got credit for on the scoresheet," he said. "But on a lot of our chances our guys had, we missed the net, or they were able to get blocks on them.
"It's tough to get pucks in the net if we're not getting pucks on the net. Those totals definitely show we need to get more pucks towards the net. At the other end, Daigs was really solid for us. They threw a lot of pucks towards the net and he was there to make a lot of solid saves all night long."
The teams will meet in the rematch on Saturday in Edmonton (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, ACAC TV).