EDMONTON – Saskatchewan's lethal powerplay struck early and often on Saturday, accounting for four goals on five opportunities as the visiting Huskies ran over the MacEwan Griffins 6-1 in Canada West men's hockey action at the Downtown Community Arena.
Now hitting at a 30.0 per cent rate this season – tops in the conference – the Huskies registered man advantage markers from Jared Dmytriw and Jaxan Kaluski in the first period, Carter Folk in the second and Zane Franklin in the third to complete a weekend sweep of the Griffins.
"I thought their powerplay was good," said MacEwan head coach Mike Ringrose. "I thought we gave them a lot of second opportunities.
"The penalty kill is so much about confidence. I thought today we had opportunities to clear pucks and we didn't. Some of our decision making was not where it needs to be. Those small mistakes end up giving good powerplays second and third opportunities."
With the result, Saskatchewan improves to 12-6-0-0, while MacEwan falls to 3-15-0-0.
The Griffins' ninth-straight loss can be pinned on inconsistent play and attention to detail throughout the contest – a familiar problem that has plagued them often lately.
While they managed to play the third period even with the Huskies, the visitors dominated the opening two frames and had already built a 5-0 lead by the time the Griffins really started clicking.
"We talked a lot about how we're doing good things for short periods of time," said Ringrose. "To be successful at this level, we've got to grow that so we're doing that more consistently for an entire 60.
"It's nice to get those small victories (in the third period), but it's another tough lesson for us today."
The Griffins started slowly and were already down 1-0 in the contest just 2:27 into it when Dmytriw converted a cross-seam pass from Wyatt Johnson as the Huskies' first powerplay was nearing its end.
It took MacEwan until the 10:54 mark of the opening frame to finally register a shot and by the end of the first, they trailed 15-6 on the shot clock and 2-0 on the scoreboard when Kaluski deked out the defence and beat James Porter.
The score would have been 3-0 if not for Porter, though, who made one of the saves of the year in Canada West. With 39 seconds left in the first, he slid over and got a blocker on a one-timer labelled for the top corner by Ty Prefontaine.
Porter, who finished with 32 saves, also had highway robbery stops on Zane Franklin (with his glove) and Dmytriw (on a breakaway) midway through the third period.
James Porter makes one of his 32 saves on Saturday (Joel Kingston photo).
"It's his first game since the break, so I think he should be happy with that," said Ringrose. "Ty (Taylor), in particular the third period yesterday, and Ports for a lot of the game today battled and competed. They were giving us what we need in the pipes.
"It's nice to see that high level of compete coming from your goaltender. It's contagious when he makes a big save. Guys want to do that much more and get after it. I thought he did a good job."
Unfortunately, he didn't get enough help, particularly in the second period. The Huskies netted an insurance marker with an early goal from Aiden Bulych on a pretty passing play down low and then put the game out of reach with a pair from Folk – tipping a hard Bulych pass home and blasting in a one-timer on Alec Zawatsky's pass from behind the net.
Franklin scored on the powerplay with eight seconds left – a lucky one bouncing off a defender's skate – to cap off Saskatchewan's win.
The Griffins will complete their inaugural Canada West season with a home-and-home series against cross-town rival Alberta on Feb. 11-12, with Saturday's contest at the Downtown Community Arena (5 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op).