Davis' program record 58 saves not enough to save Griffins in 5-1 loss to Huskies

Thomas Davis made 58 saves to break his own program record for the most in a Canada West game as the Griffins lost 5-1 to Saskatchewan (Joel Kingston photo).
Thomas Davis made 58 saves to break his own program record for the most in a Canada West game as the Griffins lost 5-1 to Saskatchewan (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Everything they demonstrated on Friday night to beat the Saskatchewan Huskies went out the window for the Griffins in Saturday's rematch.

Gone were the blocked shots, the sticks in lanes, the speed, the details and the powerplay.

Not exactly a positive development considering the U SPORTS No. 4-ranked Huskies upped their game as much as the Griffins lost theirs and cruised to a 5-1 victory, outshooting MacEwan 63-18 in the process.

"I think it was all about effort and (not) willing to do the hard stuff that we were successful with yesterday," said MacEwan interim head coach Zack Dailey. "Obviously, we beat a really good team yesterday and of course they're going to come out and they're going to be pissed off and they're going to be playing hard. We weren't ready to match that intensity."

For the sixth-straight series, MacEwan was forced to settle for a weekend split that dropped back to .500 in the Canada West standings (6-6-0) as series sweeps continue to elude them. The Huskies are now 8-2-1.

"We're getting a little frustrated with this playing great for one game and taking another game off," said Dailey, whose team produced a gem on Friday to beat the Huskies 3-1 but couldn't follow that up. "We're going to look as a coaching staff to change some stuff up to try and get a different result. Ultimately, it's a problem with our group right now and we're trying to fix it."

David Kope tries to get behind the Huskies defence on Saturday. The Griffins generated just 18 shots (Joel Kingston photo).

After being outshot 31-29 by the Griffins on Friday, the Huskies came out with a game plan to shoot early and often on Saturday. What resulted was the sixth-most single-game shots total by a team in a Canada West men's hockey game since that record started being tracked by the conference in 2005.

That also gave Griffins goaltender Thomas Davis an opportunity to shine as he made 58 saves to top his own program record of 52 set during a 9-3 loss to Mount Royal last season.

If you're making that many saves, it means the team didn't play well enough in front of you, though – a shame considering it was only Davis' second start of the 2022-23 season.

"To have someone who shows up every day, works hard, stays after practice to help guys work on stuff and that's the effort we give in front of him? It's super disappointing by our team and we definitely let him down today," said Dailey.

Davis predictably emerged a little tired, but no worse for wear afterward.

"A lot of Gatorade and a lot of electrolytes just so you don't cramp up," he said of his strategy in such a high-event game. "But it's just one period at a time. You don't expect to get 20 in the next period, but it happens. Just take it one shot at a time and see where it ends up, whether it's 20 or 60."

Davis stopped all 16 shots the Huskies threw at him in the first period to keep the game scoreless, but the Huskies simply turned up the volume and ripped the knob off in the second period with 31 shots in that 20-minute span alone. 

Three of them went in as Jaxan Kaluski scored twice in less than four minutes before Carter Stebbings one-timed a sneaky Brayden Camrud pass from behind the net past Davis 6:56 into the middle frame.

The Griffins finally got some offence going in the first minute of the third period. Zach Webb was stopped on a breakaway by Jordan Kooy before the Huskies' attempt to clear the zone was picked off by Brecon Wood and he dished it to Webb for a cross-seam pass to Kobe Mohr, who buried a one-timer for his first of the season.

In what would become perhaps the turning point of the game, though, the Griffins' momentum was sapped just over a minute later when Mohr was whistled for a four-minute slew-footing penalty. Saskatchewan scored twice on the ensuing powerplay on tallies by Liam Keeler and Jared Dmytriw to put the game to bed.

"We talked about it before that they have a very good powerplay and that's something we need to work on is our discipline," said Dailey, whose team gave up nine man-advantage opportunities to the Huskies. "I don't think we did a good job tonight. Discipline stems from moving your feet. We took way too many stick penalties, which tells me that we were slow and out of position. We need to do a better job of moving our feet, getting body position and that's where we can become more disciplined."

The Griffins will head out on the road next weekend as they visit Manitoba (4-8-0), the team that trails them by four points for the final playoff spot in Canada West.