EDMONTON – Building off a serious heart-to-heart in the second intermission, the MacEwan Griffins scored four times in the third period to spike the cross-town rival Concordia Thunder 6-2 on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena.
"We weren't very good through two," said Griffins interim head coach Michael Ringrose. "We made a lot of mistakes and gave up opportunities we didn't need to give up. We ended up taking penalties because we put ourselves in bad spots.
"We had a conversation after the second about regrouping and focusing on playing the game right way. In the third period, we were able to do that."
It was the Griffins' stellar special teams that made the difference in the final 20 minutes.
Nakehko Lamothe scored the game-winning goal (his third of the weekend) just 41 seconds into the final frame while the Griffins were short-handed. Tyler Mrkonjic added another short-handed tally just under four minutes later before Brett Njaa and Taylor Mulder scored power-play goals to turn the game into a rout.
"Obviously our special teams came through for us when it mattered and that was the difference in the game in the third," said Ringrose. "Overall, we cleaned things up. I was really happy with the way we responded after the slow start."
Ryan Benn opened the scoring for the Griffins just 2:40 into the first period, but Concordia scored twice in just over three minutes to take the lead (from Adam Wheeldon and Adam Moghrabi).
Nolan Yaremchuk got MacEwan back even again just 21 seconds before the first-period horn, which was the last goal scored before the Griffin's third-period outburst.
Captain Benn led the Griffins with a goal and two assists, both Njaa and Yaremchuk had a goal and a helper, and Cameron Gotaas chipped in two assists.
"We had some veteran guys who were exceptional," said Ringrose. "When it mattered, it was our veteran guys who were able to right the ship and carry us through this weekend. That's good to see."
Marc-Olivier Daigle made 36 saves for the victory, which gives the Griffins a weekend sweep of the Thunder. MacEwan moves to 6-4-0 in the ACAC standings, while Concordia falls to 3-6-1.
For the Griffins, that's now their fourth win in a row (outscoring the opposition 23-7 over that span) as they continue to build momentum. They'll next take on the UAlberta-Augustana Vikings (7-2-1) on Nov. 17-18 with Friday's game at home (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).
"As a coach, I'm certainly happy with the strides we're taking as a group," said Ringrose. "It started with our bye week there, gave us an opportunity to refocus. Now we've had two real good strong weekends pushing in the right direction.
"For me tonight, I really appreciated our leadership. I thought they did a good job getting the group refocused and back on track and ready to play in the third."