Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – It's not often a hockey team wins 5-2, outshooting their opponent 61-14, and the head coach is looking at room for improvement.
But that's exactly the tone of Lindsay McAlpine post-game speech to her MacEwan Griffins women's hockey players, following a dominant triumph (at least on paper) over the SAIT Trojans on Friday night at the Downtown Community Arena.
"I just told them I'm happy that I'm not happy with a game we won 5-2 and outshot them 61-14," said McAlpine. "I don't think we played our style of game. I thought we got away from trying to dictate the pace of the game. I don't think our puck possession was great.
"We ended up finding the back of the net five times and came up with a win, but I thought SAIT took it to us early and we didn't really respond well."
Indeed, the Trojans twice held leads in the first half of the contest, despite being badly outshot. Kelsey Patterson opened the scoring for the visitors on a breakaway with 2:52 left in the first period, snapping a shot under Brianna Sank's blocker.
MacEwan responded just 17 seconds later when Morgan Casson jammed a puck past SAIT starter Kaylin Schellenberg to knot the game 1-1.
SAIT regained the lead just 2:29 into the second when Davina McLeod caught Sank cheating off the post and banked it in off of her from behind the net.
Again, the Griffins woke up and tied the game just 1:14 later as Jordyn Reimer jumped on a loose puck in the slot and wired it glove side.
This time, at least, MacEwan stayed woke, never taking their feet off the gas pedal the rest of the way.
"I think they responded to what was not a great start for us," said McAlpine. "Do I think they responded well enough? Not really.
"I want to see a game that we control the pace from the outset. That's something we've been working on a lot. Again, we wait for a team to come at us before we start to respond, and you saw that today. They score a goal and we respond. It was wake up, here we go.
"We know in this league we can't get away with that happening. I think these are lessons we need to learn early."
That said, even with improvements to make, the Griffins easily could have hit double digits in the contest, if not for the play of SAIT player of the game Schellenberg, who finished with 56 saves.
"She's a big goalie and I think we catered to her size – playing that up-high shooting game where she's really, really strong," said McAlpine. "I don't think we made her move a ton – an area of the game we need to be better at tomorrow."
The Griffins hemmed the Trojans in their own end for most of the second period and went up 3-2 when Jaime Erickson's shot hit Jayme Doyle on the way to the net, landed at her feet and she whirled and wired a slapshot through a screen provided by Rylee Gluska.
Griffins rookie Sydney Hughson looks for a rebound in front of SAIT goalie Kaylin Schellenberg on Friday. Both were named players of the game for their respective teams (Joel Kingston photo / JoelKingstonphotography.com).
Rookie Sydney Hughson jumped on a rebound to score the first goal of her ACAC career 2:04 into the third, finally rewarded for a night of hard work at both ends of the ice.
"To be honest, I thought Sydney was the best player on the ice tonight," said McAlpine. "She played well for us defensively, made some great passes, had great offensive opportunities – some of the most threatening goal scoring opportunities in tonight's game. Awesome to see her develop into the player she has already in her rookie season."
Hughson was elated to get her first goal and earned player of the game honours for MacEwan.
"It was great," she said on a play she finished off after starting it with a pass to Jessie Rampton. "I was so happy I had the opportunity. I just jumped up, read the play and got the rebound. It was really good."
Chantal Ricker scored her fourth goal of the season with 11:53 left to play when she walked out from behind the net and zipped a high backhand off the post and past Schellenberg.
So, MacEwan remains undefeated on the season at 3-0-0-0 with the win.
Hughson notes their early success is due to strong chemistry.
"We have fun off the ice and on the bench," she said. "Everyone's so encouraging and it's good to see. We allow ourselves to build our chemistry on the ice and our intensity just goes up. We focus on the process. The wins and the losses, we just take it one step at a time."
MacEwan will travel to Calgary on Saturday for the second half of the series against SAIT (7 p.m., SAIT Arena, ACAC TV).