Griffins building confidence they can play with the top teams ahead of visit to U SPORTS No. 4 UBC

Loeden Schaufler celebrates his goal with Carter Chorney after scoring against Calgary last Saturday (Derek Harback photo).
Loeden Schaufler celebrates his goal with Carter Chorney after scoring against Calgary last Saturday (Derek Harback photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Confidence and mindset are huge things for the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team right now as they continue to run a gauntlet by facing some of the top teams in the country.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire, they'll go from facing U SPORTS No. 2 Calgary last weekend to visiting No. 4 UBC on Friday (8 p.m. MT) and Saturday (4 p.m. MT, both Canada West TV).

MacEwan lost back-to-back games by a 6-4 score to 16-3-1 Calgary to open the second semester, but led in both contests and were right with the Dinos all the way.

While UBC (16-4-0) presents a different test than Calgary, the Griffins (6-13-1) are riding a wave of assurance that they can play with the top teams.

"Just confidence that if we play the correct way, it doesn't matter who we're playing, we're going to be in games, we're going to be competitive," said MacEwan head coach Zack Dailey. 

That said, MacEwan allowed 12 goals against in two contests vs. Calgary (albeit one was an empty-netter), so they are fine-tuning elements to their game.

"There is certainly stuff to clean up," acknowledged Dailey. "I think our breakouts really let us down last weekend. We turned over way too many pucks, ended up taking penalties and spending time in our D zone. 

"(UBC) is a very good team off the rush, so I think that if we can clean up our breakouts and have very good rush-against defence (we can find success).

"It's going to definitely be a tough task, but it's really good to play these top teams not only as a measuring stick, but just to build confidence playing with them."

MacEwan enters the weekend still three points ahead of Regina (4-14-2) for the sixth and final playoff spot in Canada West.

The last time they faced UBC – Oct. 27-28 in Edmonton – the Griffins lost 5-2 and 7-2, respectively. While they held leads in both games, MacEwan was outscored 8-1 in the third period combined. 

Dailey said it's all about mindset.

"I think we've done a better job of that the last four games we've played," he said of playing 60 minutes. "I think it's very dependent on how well we manage pucks and how well we defend. If we turn over a bunch of pucks, we're playing in our D zone a whole bunch and it's really hard to defend, especially against a fast team like UBC. 

"I think it's going to be very dependent on how we manage pucks – if we're able to chip pucks out and get pressure in the O zone."