Playing for Dano on what would have been his birthday, Griffins beat Dinos 3-1

Abass Ajibade makes a play in midfield on Sunday. The Griffins beat the Calgary Dinos 3-1 to get back to .500 in the standings (Chris Lindsey photo).
Abass Ajibade makes a play in midfield on Sunday. The Griffins beat the Calgary Dinos 3-1 to get back to .500 in the standings (Chris Lindsey photo).

Jefferson Hagen 
MacEwan Athletics

CALGARY – It was an emotional, reflective moment as the Griffins walked out onto Dinosaur Field on Sunday, on the morning of a day that would have been former assistant coach Daniel Drummond's 38th birthday.

Drummond, affectionately known as 'Dano' by those who played with him on the Griffins (2006-09) and who were coached by him (2017-22), passed away in June after a courageous battle with Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC).

He would have loved what his team did on his birthday. Playing for him, they rolled to a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Dinos.

"It was Dano's birthday today, so some of us who've had the privilege of having him in our lives throughout the program, he was definitely on our minds," said Griffins head coach Adam Loga.

"To win today on the same pitch that we called him on FaceTime at after qualifying for playoffs (in 2021) was pretty special, as well."

Loga shared more about that moment in an article about Drummond's legacy (HERE), but essentially the coach was unable to make the trip to Calgary due to family commitments when the Griffins beat the previously unbeaten Dinos twice to make the playoffs two years ago. They called him on FaceTime and put the phone in the middle of the celebration huddle.

No doubt, Drummond was there in spirit with them again on Sunday.

The Griffins played inspired football and were full marks for a win that gets them back level on the table (2-2-0).

"The boys have rebounded after some unfortunate performances really well so far this season," said Loga of triumphing Sunday after losing 3-0 to Mount Royal on Saturday.

"It shows the will they have and the togetherness that is continually forming and progressing in the group to rebound the way they have after both our losses so far."

After a slow start cost them against the Cougars when they conceded twice in the first 16 minutes, Ali Yildiz made sure it was the Griffins getting on the front foot early this time when he opened the scoring in the ninth minute, one-touching a great pass from Samuel Vieira past Calgary keeper Liam Hunter.

"It was a beautiful goal," said Loga. "He was able to get in behind and it was a great ball played in by Sam and just a one-touch finish. 

"We preached having a better start after yesterday – conceding two in 16 minutes – so we wanted to make sure we started off this match better and we did exactly that."

Marko Ilich made six saves for the Griffins in a 3-1 victory (Chris Lindsey photo).

Rakan Yassin made it 2-0 for MacEwan in the 51st minute when Chance Carter sprung him for a nice finish.

After the Dinos pulled within one in the 74th minute on Derek Brust's second goal of the season, MacEwan held them off before Felix Guité scored his first career goal in extra time to salt away the win.

"It was great," said Loga. "They made it interesting at the end. We had to make some tactical changes. It was a bit of a game of chess and just being able to manage minutes, given some of the injuries we have. 

"We just had to manage things tactically with not having the depth this weekend that we usually have. Guys stepped up big. We were able to see it out."

Marko Ilich made six saves for the Griffins, who were outshot 15-9 by the Dinos (7-6 on target).

Carter was named MVP for the Griffins after a solid 90-minute shift in central midfield and as an extra centre-back late in the contest.

"He just adds that sense of stability, calmness and leadership on the pitch each and every game when he's at his best," said Loga. "Again today, he was just kind of our safety blanket. You see him on the pitch and know things are going to be OK."

The Griffins next return home to host UBC on Sept. 16 (12 p.m., Clarke Stadium).