Griffins within a point of a playoff spot after strong effort in 5-3 win over Spartans

Sam Simard celebrates his goal in the first period on Friday (Jeffrey Paczynski photo).
Sam Simard celebrates his goal in the first period on Friday (Jeffrey Paczynski photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

LANGLEY, B.C. – Facing a goaltender who has represented his country at the World Juniors, the MacEwan Griffins came in with a plan to create offence against Austrian netminder Leon Sommer on Friday.

Take away his eyes, create a logjam in front and get to the net hard.

It worked as they scored four times on the Trinity Western Spartans starter and ended up with a big 5-3 win in Canada West action.

"I thought we did a good job of getting pucks to the net and a good job of finishing," said head coach Zack Dailey. "This is a good goaltender that we're playing against, but I liked that we had some traffic in front of the net and made it hard on him."

Sommer finished with 24 saves, but was outplayed by his counterpart in MacEwan's net as Ashton Abel stopped 21 for his second win of the season, including a game-saving breakaway stop in the dying moments that preserved the victory.

"He made some big ones for us," said Dailey. "That's what we need if we're going to be successful. He definitely held us in there and gave us a chance to win. 

"That's what we need from him, but we certainly appreciate and recognize how good he was."

With the result, the Griffins (3-7-1) put some distance between them and the Spartans (2-9-0) as both teams try to chase down sixth-place Regina (3-6-2) for the final playoff spot in the conference.

Captain Kole Gable led the Griffins with a goal and an assist, while defenceman Hunter Donohoe had two helpers. Loeden Schaufler, Samuel Simard, Sean Comrie and Kadyn Chabot also scored for the Griffins.

Chabot's tally one of the nicest goals you'll see all season as the former Spruce Grove Saints forward gave MacEwan a 4-2 lead midway through the second period when he deked through the entire Spartans defence before beating Sommer for the eventual game-winner.

"That was an amazing individual effort," said Dailey of the electric rookie's fourth of the campaign. "That was incredible."

Beyond all the goals and saves, though, Dailey pointed to one thing that really made the difference for the Griffins.

"I think just a consistency of mental toughness (was the key)," he said. "There were times we were up, and we gave up some goals. Instead of going into a shell, we just kept playing, trying to push the pace. 

"I just liked our overall mental toughness. We stuck with it regardless of score and regardless of what was happening."

The teams will meet again on Saturday (2 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).

"The toughest thing is tomorrow is a completely different game and the results of this game have no impact," said Dailey. "We just need to make sure we have a short memory – take away the things we did well, learn from our mistakes and just come with in focused with a complete effort."