EDMONTON – Spending half the second period in the penalty box, the MacEwan Griffins were knocked out of their rhythm, knocked badly on the scoreboard and ultimately knocked out by the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday night.
Scoring five unanswered goals in a span less than 14 minutes in the middle frame, the Huskies cruised to a 5-0 win in Canada West men's hockey action at the Downtown Community Arena.
"Credit to them," said MacEwan head coach Mike Ringrose. "I thought their powerplay did a good job tonight and scored a couple big goals for them. I thought that we had opportunities. We just had simple little details on the kill that we didn't take care of that ended up costing us in the end.
"They've got a good team. You keep going back to the well and keep giving them opportunities, they're eventually going to make you pay on the powerplay."
The loss, MacEwan's eighth in a row, drops their record to 3-14-0-0. The Huskies, meanwhile, snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 11-6-0-0.
Goaltender Roddy Ross earned a 19-save shutout for the visitors, while Ty Taylor finished with 31 saves for the Griffins.
Aiden Bulych led the Huskies with a pair of powerplay goals, while both Jared Dmytriw and Wyatt Johnson had two helpers each and Carter Folk chipped in goal and an assist.
The Griffins had done a nice job in the first period, clogging up lanes and generally disrupting what the Huskies were trying to do. Offensively, however, despite getting three powerplays, MacEwan couldn't generate anything.
They had a glorious chance to go up 1-0 after 20 minutes when Chase Thudium emerged from the penalty box in the dying seconds and joined Zach Webb on a 2-on-0, but fanned on the one-timer pass from him, clipping it off the post.
Chase Thudium looks to control the puck under pressure from Saskatchewan's Ty Prefontaine on Friday (Joel Kingston photo).
With Hunter Donohoe off for slashing, the Huskies made good on their first powerplay of the contest 5:52 into the second period. Bulych opened the scoring on a low tip inside the far post from the high slot off Dmytriw's shot.
From there, Saskatchewan gained momentum and went on a relentless onslaught in MacEwan's end, made worse by MacEwan's parade to the penalty box after they stopped skating.
"For us, it's just recognizing every time you step on the ice, that's a meaningful shift," said Ringrose. "A costly error in the first is no different than one in the middle of the second. You've got to stay with it, you've got to be prepared and mentally tough enough to execute for 60 minutes. It's something we've got to learn."
Moments after Taylor robbed Vince Loschiavo on back-to-back point blank rebound chances, Folk beat him for a 2-0 Saskatchewan lead after dusting his man in front and tipping home Johnson's hard pass.
Justin Ball made it 3-0 at 9:51, scooping up a rebound off Folk's shot, walking around Taylor untouched and sliding it in.
Less than a minute later, with the Griffins reeling, it was 4-0 when the Huskies capitalized on another powerplay. Bulych beat a defender for positioning in front and slung home Dmytriw's cross-crease pass.
Connor Hobbs made it 5-0 with 20 seconds left in the second when he used a defenceman as a screen and wired one that squeaked past Taylor on the glove side.
The Griffins finally got their legs moving in the third period, generating several offensive chances and hitting two posts – Hunter Lamb at 17:41 and Cameron Reagan at 7:22 – but it was too late to save them on this night.
However, it's something they can build off of for Saturday's rematch (2 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).
"I thought we skated," said Ringrose of the third period. "I thought that was a big difference. I thought we got after it. We were hungry to hunt pucks. Our second man support was there first a lot of the time in the offensive zone.
"It changed the flow of the game and I thought we did a good job in the third period. It gave us something to build off of looking forward to tomorrow."