Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – A small stretch of time on their heels in the second period, combined with running into a hot goalie left the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team on the wrong side of a 4-0 score against the visiting Calgary Dinos in their Canada West home opener on Friday afternoon.
In reality, the game was much closer than that and it could be argued MacEwan had more of the play, outshooting Calgary 34-27.
Nevertheless, the loss dropped the Griffins to 2-3-0 in the standings, while elevating the Dinos to 3-2-0.
"Obviously, you just can't take any time off," said MacEwan head coach Mike Ringrose. "We took, in my opinion, about five minutes off there in the second period and it cost us two goals.
"You can't chase games. It's too tough at this level, especially when their goaltender was playing as well as he was. We weren't able to dig ourselves out of that hole we created."
Brodan Salmond made 34 saves for the Dinos, coming up with several big stops throughout the contest at the Downtown Community Arena.
Salmond stopped Ryley Appelt at the doorstep early in the second period before staving off some huge Griffins pressure in the waning moments of the middle frame, denying Sean Comrie and Curtis Roach on point-blank chances.
Salmond even cleaned up his own mistake with 13 minutes left in the third period when he played the puck off the side of his net, but scrambled back to deny Ethan Price with a pad stop.
"Especially early in the game I thought we had lots of opportunities to score," said Ringrose. "Credit to their goalie. I thought he played well tonight.
"I liked the process," he added. "I liked our game for the most part. They do a very good job of trapping through neutral and transitioning quickly. We got caught in that trap a couple of times and it ended up in the back of our net, and that's the difference in the game."
Riley Brandt battles with Calgary's Conner Gutenberg on Friday (Joel Kingston photo).
Calgary's Riley Stotts opened the scoring at 15:49 of the first period on the powerplay, going bar down on a perfect shot from the left hash.
Then the Dinos essentially clinched the game on two goals in a span of 1:30 in the middle of the second period.
Tyson Upper got a piece of a Ryan Graham pass, deflecting it inside the far post past Ty Taylor at 9:15 before Josh Rieger scored on a wraparound to put the game out of reach.
Sean Strange added a fourth goal for the Dinos in the third period when he let a wrister go on a one-on-one rush that clinked the crossbar and down.
Riley Brandt led the Griffins with five shots, while Nic Correale, Price and Appelt each had four. Taylor made 23 saves in the loss.
There are certainly some positives, though, that the Griffins can take into Saturday's rematch (8 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
"I thought we did a good job in the offensive zone, in particular of generating some zone time and creating some opportunities," said Ringrose. "I thought we had our chances to score and for whatever reason it didn't go in for us tonight.
"Generating offence is never an easy thing to do at this level. I thought especially in the first half we were able to do that with some consistency, so that's an important step forward for our group."
Joel Ray carries the puck into the zone on Friday. The Griffins generated plenty of offensive chances, but weren't able to hit the scoresheet (Joel Kingston photo).