Recovering from early deficit, Griffins double up on Broncos to complete weekend sweep

Jill MacWilliam, right, celebrates her second period goal with Chantal Ricker (Melbourne Disbrow photo).
Jill MacWilliam, right, celebrates her second period goal with Chantal Ricker (Melbourne Disbrow photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – For the second-straight game against the Olds College Broncos, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team found themselves digging out of an early hole.

Despite outshooting the Broncos 12-4 in the opening frame on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena, the Griffins went to the room trailing 2-1.

But just as they turned a 1-0 deficit on Thursday against Olds into a 2-1 win, MacEwan scored three unanswered goals on Saturday to post a 4-2 victory that moves their ACAC-leading record to 4-0-0-0. They again massively outshot the Broncos, this time by a 37-12 count.

"I thought we actually quite solid defensively, only giving up 12 shots," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "Ironically, we actually had a better start today – not on the scoreboard – but a better start as a team than we did on Thursday.

"We didn't want to be in the deficit that we were. I think again, (Natalie) Bender would want both of those goals back – one a straight shot and the other an unfortunate bounce."

Chantal Ricker opened the scoring on Saturday just 3:31 into the game when she fooled Olds goalie Lexi Bruce with a wraparound.

But the Broncos quickly tied the contest on their first shot of the night when Abby Webster beat Bender on a clean shot from the point.

Against the run of play and not long after Shyla Jans was stopped on a breakaway, Olds scored on its third shot of the game when Kali Cummings potted a juicy rebound off the powerplay.

But the Griffins kept pouring shots towards Bruce and wouldn't be denied. Jill MacWilliam epitomized the effort needed to score at the net-front as she dove for a rebound and put a one-handed slash past the Olds keeper to tie the game 4:13 into the frame.

"Lindsay talks about it in practice all the time – how we need to have that urgency and jump on those rebounds," said MacWilliam. "It was right in front of me and I was like 'that's it right there.' It was handed to me and I had to jump on it."

Even more impressive was the fact she scored the goal after breaking her thumb blocking a shot earlier in the contest. There's no doubt her effort in the face of adversity led the way for a MacEwan team that seemed in complete control after that.

"It was definitely a big booster for the team, considering we scored on ourselves basically," she said. "So, it definitely pumped up the team. I think after that, our legs started moving and everyone just got really hyped."

Shyla Jans scored the game-winner with 4:42 left in the second period when she finished off Carley Jewell's rush into the zone by juking the goalie and tucking a backhand under the bar.

MacEwan withstood an Olds flurry late in the second period and Bender got some help from the iron when Tori Chenier's backhand from the slot through traffic pinged off the crossbar.

"This is a team you definitely can't take lightly because they work the full 60 minutes," said MacWilliam. "You definitely have to come into the game prepared.

"That team has a lot of skill, even though they have a lot of first- and second-year players. They had unreal goaltending (especially on Thursday) so we definitely have to capitalize on our chances when we do get them."

Early in the third period, Dominique Scheurer provided the insurance marker when she tapped in a cross-crease pass, finishing off a great passing breakout rush with Jans and Nikki Reimer.

"We put a lot of pucks on net and I thought we did have more intensity at the net front," said McAlpine. "They clog up the area and it gets frustrating to play against, but it was better."

Their goal-scoring still a work in progress, the undefeated Griffins now get set for a tough stretch against NAIT (Oct. 19-20) and Red Deer College (Oct. Oct. 26-27).

"I think we've got four really big games coming up with NAIT and Red Deer and there are things we can bring back to practice and focus on – good things to build on for sure," said McAlpine.