Griffins push U SPORTS No. 3 Calgary with strong effort in narrow defeat

Liam Ryan tries to get around Calgary's Jadon Joseph on Saturday. He scored his first goal as a Griffin (Derek Harback photo).
Liam Ryan tries to get around Calgary's Jadon Joseph on Saturday. He scored his first goal as a Griffin (Derek Harback photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Liam Ryan scored his first as a Griffin, Vincent Scott set a new program standard for short-handed goals in a Canada West season and the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team gave the U SPORTS No. 3 Calgary Dinos a true test on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena.

In one of their finest efforts of the season, MacEwan closed to within a goal of the top team in Canada West before an empty-netter with 11.7 seconds left sealed their fate – a 6-4 loss.

While they have no points to show for a hard-fought series against the Dinos, the Griffins took a noticeable step forward.

"We talk about the process and playing the right way and I thought we did a great job," said MacEwan head coach Zack Dailey. "I thought at times we pushed the pace. Obviously, they're a very good hockey team, so there were times we were on our heels. But I liked our overall attitude that up or down we seem to continue to push and play the right way. That's definitely a step in the right direction. 

"Obviously, we didn't get the result we wanted, so it's a bit bittersweet, but I really like the way we played. I think that if we do that down the stretch we're going to be in games and that's all you can ask for."

With the result, Calgary kept pace atop the conference at 16-3-1, remaining a point ahead of UBC (16-4-0), who also won, beating Manitoba. MacEwan falls to 6-13-1 but stays three points up on Regina (4-13-2) for the sixth and final playoff spot after the Cougars lost 5-4 to Saskatchewan.

Jordan Taupert gave the Griffins an early goal for a second-straight night against the Dinos when he potted the rebound of Kole Gable's wraparound attempt on the powerplay just 2:41 into the contest.

Loeden Schaufler made it 2-0 midway through the first period, finishing off a passing play from Carter Chorney and Ethan Strang.

After Calgary struck back to tie it early in the second on goals from Adam Kydd and Mack Stewart, Ryan restored MacEwan's lead on a rebound 3:25 into the middle frame.
It was the Carleton University transfer's first goal as a Griffin.

"I've been super excited to be here this year and just hadn't found the back of the net," he said. "You try to stay even keel throughout the whole time and contribute in other ways, but it definitely felt really good to get that one today."

But like they were in Friday's come-from-behind 6-4 win over the Griffins in Calgary, the Dinos were relentless in the second period, showing the speed and execution that makes them a national championship contender. Jake Poole wired a wicked shot bar down to tie the game a minute-and-a-half after Ryan's goal.

Zack Wytinck's tally followed less than two minutes later as Calgary found its first lead of the game. 

Kydd scored the eventual game-winner 47 seconds into the third period when he batted Jason Joseph's rebound out of mid-air over goalie Eric Ward's head from in tight after being pushed into the crease.

Vincent Scott breaks in alone ahead of scoring his second short-handed goal of 2023-24, setting a new program record for the most SHG in a Canada West season (Derek Harback photo).

MacEwan wasn't done yet, however, as Scott lifted a solid home crowd of 311 out of their seats after winning the puck along the wall, speeding in on a breakaway and beating Carl Tetachuk glove side to pull the Griffins within one with 9:41 left. It was his second short-handed goal of 2023-24, which sets a new program record for the most in Canada West season.

"Vinny, always using his wheels," said Dailey. "That's a big strength of his. I'm happy to see him get one."

Poole salted the result away with a late empty-net goal.

Tetachuk made 20 saves for Calgary, while Ward – in just his second start of his first season at MacEwan – stopped 35, generally keeping the Griffins in it on a night Calgary had seven powerplays.

"Obviously, it's a tough spot going into the second game against the first-place team in the league and I thought he handled himself well," said Dailey. "He looked calm in there. He gave us a chance to win, and that's all you can ask for. I'm really happy with his play tonight."

While the Griffins have no points to show for their series against Calgary, they can use the effort as a building block for their playoff push over the next few weeks. 

"The way we play, nothing's given to us," said Ryan. "We work for everything and that's kind of our motto. It doesn't matter how much skill they have, we've got skill too, but we're going to do our best to outwork the other team."

Next up for the Griffins is a visit to UBC on Jan. 12-13.