Comrie, Mitchell score in Griffins' 5-2 loss to Golden Bears

Conrad Mitchell scored his first career Canada West goal for the Griffins on Friday night (Joel Kingston photo).
Conrad Mitchell scored his first career Canada West goal for the Griffins on Friday night (Joel Kingston photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — It probably felt like a bit of a roller coaster ride for the MacEwan Griffins, because there were quite a few up and down moments against their cross-town rival Alberta Golden Bears.

In the end, there were too many lost battles that led to a 5-2 defeat Friday night at the Downtown Community Arena.

Josh Prokop led the Golden Bears with one goal and one assist, while Wyatt McLeod, Justin Hall, Josh Paterson and Mason Ward also replied for Alberta.

Defenceman Sean Comrie scored his first of the season and first-year forward Conrad Mitchell tallied his first-career goal in the loss for MacEwan.

Goaltender Ashton Abel made 40 saves for the Griffins, while Ethan Kruger stopped 13 shots.

Alberta improved to 2-2-1 on the season, while MacEwan fell to 0-4-1.

"They're a very good hockey team, so any time you have those lapses, you'll get scored on or you'll regain momentum. The hardest part of hockey is consistency, but we have to find a way to be more consistent," said Griffins head coach Zack Dailey.

"At times we were quite good, but I thought we took too many penalties and when you have only certain guys killing penalties it can really kill your game flow. Credit to them, they played well, but we weren't good enough for long stretches tonight."

Captain Kole Gable unleashes a shot on Friday (Joel Kingston photo).

The Griffins had a couple solid scoring chances in the early stages of the opening period. 

Sam Simard had MacEwan's first big scoring chance in the opening few minutes. All alone in front he let a hard shot go, but Kruger was able to stretch out and make the stick save.

Moments later, Ethan Strang was open in the slot, but he wired a shot that just went over the crossbar.

Against a team like Alberta, who doesn't give up many high quality scoring chances, it's imperative to cash in on the chances you get, but MacEwan came up empty.

The Golden Bears regrouped and were able to jump out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals from McLeod and Hall, and they finished the opening period leading the Griffins in shots 18-6.

"I thought there were a few chances early where we missed some opportunities to get shots on net, and from there, they took control. I liked our start, but I didn't like the second half of our first period," said Dailey.

MacEwan responded with a much better second period as they started to battle back against the Golden Bears.

After Paterson tipped in a point shot to make it 3-0 at the 6:01 mark of the second period, the Griffins worked hard to dig themselves out of the hole.

MacEwan cut the lead to 3-1 with Comrie's big blast from the point. It was the Griffins first power play goal of the season, and it helped get them back in the game.

"We needed that one," said Dailey. 

"Great execution by that group. We always talk about being simple on our power play by getting screens in front of the net and using the traffic to get shots through and that was a great shot with a screen in front."

Despite being down two goals, the Griffins looked to carry that momentum into the final period and try to complete the comeback, but some penalty trouble early in the third period got them into trouble.

Prokop's power play goal made it 4-1, and then Ward's goal just 2:18 later put the game out of reach.

"There were parts where we were pretty good, and there were parts where we backed off a little too much and didn't put pressure on these guys. If you let them wind up and let them use their speed, you'll get into trouble. I thought at times we sat back too much. We lost too many battles, especially in the d-zone and in our net front," said Dailey.

Despite being down, the Griffins continued to compete hard and their fourth line made up of rookies Liam Hughes, Liam Ryan and Conrad Mitchell were able to cut into the Golden Bears lead with 5:16 to play.

Mitchell took a feed from Edward Wruck at the blueline and let a hard wrist shot go and with Ryan and Hughes crashing the net, it found the back of the net for his first-career Canada West goal.
"It was a good hard working shift by that line," said Dailey.

"Our guys did a great job to get to the net and a great job by Conrad releasing high with a shot through traffic.

"We need more of that from our team if we want to be successful."

The Griffins and Golden Bears will wrap up their weekend series with their rematch at Clare Drake Arena at 7 p.m. on Saturday (Canada West TV).