Wheels fall off late as Griffins concede seven unanswered goals in 9-3 loss to Cougars

Griffins defenders try to prevent MRU from getting the puck in a scramble in front of goaltender Thomas Davis on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).
Griffins defenders try to prevent MRU from getting the puck in a scramble in front of goaltender Thomas Davis on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – If you had left midway through Saturday's Canada West men's hockey game between the MacEwan Griffins and Mount Royal University Cougars, you would probably fall off your chair at mention of the final score.

Halfway through, the Griffins were enjoying a 3-2 advantage and seemed on the verge of accomplishing something – maybe, just maybe, they would snap a losing streak that stretches back to late November.

But the wheels fell off spectacularly after that as the Cougars scored seven unanswered goals in the final 27 minutes and change to march out of the Downtown Community Arena with a dominant 9-3 victory.

"Good job by our guys finding a way to get a lead in the second," said Griffins head coach Mike Ringrose. "We had lost a couple forwards and I think we ran out of gas a little bit as the game wore on.

"Certainly it was another case of us starting the game OK and then losing our compete and losing our work ethic as the game went on."

With the result, the Cougars improved to 10-5-0-1 on the campaign, while MacEwan falls to its seventh-straight defeat, dropping to 3-13-0-0.

"It's tough," said Ringrose, who team was outshot 61-21 on Saturday. "It's not easy right now. Nothing's coming easy for us. We've faced lots of adversity as a group this year. Right now, it's got us beat down. We've got to find a way to get our identity back."

MRU's top scorers had a field day on Saturday. Sitting 1-2 among the Canada West scoring leaders, Nolan Yaremko and Riley Sawchuk were unstoppable.

Yaremko had a game-high 12 (!) shots on net, finishing with a goal and an assist to increase his conference-leading mark to 30 points in 16 games, while Sawchuk led the Cougars with two goals and two assists to bring his season total to 28 points.

The duo combined on the game's opening goal in the first period as Yaremko beat MacEwan's Thomas Davis – making his first career Canada West start – on a one-time pass from Sawchuk.

But on a rush 20 seconds into the second period, Zach Webb hit the trailer, Andrew Kartusch, who tied the game with a wicked wrister past MRU goalie Riley Morris.

Jordan Taupert takes a shot with Kyle Walker hampering his efforts on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).

Sawchuk then scored MRU's first of three powerplay goals in the contest to give the Cougars the lead before MacEwan struck back with two in a row in a two-minute span.

Brett Magee sent a seeing-eye point shot through traffic and past Morris before Brecon Wood found himself all alone in front to convert a Joel Ray pass.

But it went all downhill from there for the Griffins, who stopped skating, got hemmed in their own zone and couldn't keep the puck out of their net.

Sawchuk tied it with another powerplay goal at 12:17 of the second before Ethan Regnier – who scored twice in Friday's 4-2 MRU win – tallied his third and fourth goals of the weekend within four minutes of each other.

Jared Power made it 6-3 for the visitors before the second was done.

Third-period goals by Kyle Walker, Robbie Holmes and Spencer Moe completed the rout as the Cougars outshot the Griffins 23-4 in the final 20 minutes.

Davis finished with 52 saves for the Griffins, while Morris stopped 18 for the Cougars.

For MacEwan, there will be plenty of soul searching before they return to action next weekend vs. Saskatchewan.

"As a group, we've got to take a step back and look at some of the things we're valuing as a program and the type of team we want to be and really put our best foot forward for the last two weekends of the year here," said Ringrose. "And (we need to) start to put some things in place so we've got some building blocks we can start to grow on and build on for next year."