Griffins find late success but it's not enough to overcome slow start in loss to Huskies

Ben Bygrove looks for an outlet against Saskatchewan on Friday night (Electric Umbrella).
Ben Bygrove looks for an outlet against Saskatchewan on Friday night (Electric Umbrella).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

SASKATOON, Sask. – In the end, the hole was just too deep for the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team to climb out of.

Spotting the Saskatchewan Huskies six unanswered goals through the first 45 minutes of the contest, the Griffins' late flourish of two of their own was a mere drop in the bucket of a 6-2 defeat on Friday night.

Head coach Zack Dailey is hoping that drop turns into a wave of momentum as the Griffins look to build off a strong finish for Saturday's rematch (5 p.m., Canada West TV).

"I think that early on, we were on our heels," said Dailey. "We gave up some opportunities and it seems they capitalized on every opportunity we gave up. So, it's kind of a learning curve that every play matters. 

"I think we showed a little bit of pushback in the third period, but by then we dug too big of a hole to get out of it. I was happy that we didn't shut down as a team. We continued to push and tried to come back, so that's a positive takeaway."

Chantz Petruic, Gunner Kinniburgh and Vince Loschiavo scored first period goals for Saskatchewan before Jaxan Kaluski and Justin Ball made it 5-0 after 40 minutes. After Josh Pillar made it 6-0 4:53 into the third, MacEwan's offence finally came to life. 

Loeden Schaufler moved in on main street from the blueline and wired a wrister blocker side for his first of the season and third of his Canada West career.

Rookie Vincent Scott added another 41 seconds before the buzzer when he tipped Liam Ryan's shot between Jordan Kooy's legs.

"You're getting shut out most of the game and you pot a few late, it shows that it is possible," said Dailey. "There's lot of stuff to build off of. We'll improve our neutral zone play and hopefully have a better result tomorrow."

While the Griffins cleaned up the neutral zone turnover issue that plagued them against Calgary on opening weekend, it was a different type of issue in the middle of the ice.

"What we weren't great at today was defending off the rush," he said. "I think they scored four or five goals right off the rush. They're a very fast team, which we knew, so we need to do a better job of staying on top of guys and not giving up odd-man rushes – forcing them to dump pucks and not carry pucks in."

Ashton Abel made 30 saves for the Griffins in his first start of the season, returning from an injury, while Kooy stopped 28 for Saskatchewan.