Unable to capitalize on chances, Griffins fall 6-4 to Spartans despite outshooting them 44-20

Jordan Taupert battles for position against a pair of Trinity Western players on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).
Jordan Taupert battles for position against a pair of Trinity Western players on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – In the type of loss you lose sleep over, counting regrets and what-ifs, the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team outshot and outplayed the visiting Trinity Western Spartans, only to lose 6-4 on Saturday night.

There are no two ways to slice it – the result is devastating for a Griffins team looking to gain ground in pursuit of a Canada West playoff spot, only to become the first team to lose to the Spartans.

They fall to 3-7-0-0, remaining eighth in the conference, while TWU (1-9-0-0) earned their program's historic first Canada West win.

"We put ourselves in a spot where you don't capitalize on your opportunities in the middle of the game and you let a team hang around," explained head coach Mike Ringrose. "Then they're able to get a few and get a little bit of momentum and now you're in a hockey game.

"For us, it's a disappointing result, but we'll regroup and get ready for the U of A next weekend."

That about sums it up as MacEwan went from full control of the contest early to a dogfight late that went the wrong way on them when the Spartans capitalized on a turnover to tie the game, won it on a powerplay tally and added an empty-netter for good measure.

"In the third period, I thought we came out with a pretty good jump and were able to get one and get the lead there," said Ringrose. "We turned the puck over and they ended up tying the game. "Then you put yourself in a spot where one shot beats you. They got one on the powerplay there and I thought we pushed hard in the end but couldn't find an answer.

"That team blocked a ton of shots in the third period. Credit to them."

Former Griffins goaltender Talor Joseph stood tall with 40 saves for the Spartans, who were outshot 44-20 in the contest, but gained a glimmer of hope at winning their first game of the season midway through and seized on that to steal a win.

Although TWU scored first when Kolby Johnson banged a rebound off starter James Porter and in from the goal-line, the Griffins tallied three in a row to lead 3-1 after 20 minutes, seemingly well on their way to repeating Friday's dominant 7-0 win.

Riley Brandt had two of those, depositing a rebound off a Cameron Reagan point shot to get the Griffins on the board at 13:00 before adding the team's third tally at 19:20, when he cashed in down low over Joseph's glove. Zach Webb also scored off a rebound.

But in the second period, against the run of play, the Spartans rallied to tie the contest. Jeremy Klessens' shot changed direction off a Griffins defender and eluded Porter. When Kade Villio snuck a backhander between his legs on just the Spartans' ninth shot of the game off a seemingly benign rush down the left side, Porter was given the hook in favour of Ty Taylor.

At this point, MacEwan resumed peppering TWU and re-gained control of the contest. Just 2:07 into the third period, Jordan Davies split the defence and chipped in his own rebound to give MacEwan a 4-3 lead.

But then the back-breaker. A giveaway in their own end led to Luke Spadaforda's tying goal just 31 seconds later.

And when Brayden Brown one-timed home a beautiful cross-crease powerplay pass from Logan Casavant with 7:57 left, the Spartans took the lead for good.

Hayden Guilderson hit an empty net with 56 seconds left to ice it.

Next up for the Griffins is a home and home series against cross-town rival Alberta Dec. 3-4, with Friday's game at the Downtown Community Arena (7 p.m.) and both on Canada West TV presented by Co-op).