Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
OLDS – Rookie MacEwan Griffins goaltender Brianna Sank could get used to playing games in the Olds Sportsplex.
Her nine-save shutout on Thursday night that gave MacEwan a 3-0 win over Olds College came 35 days after she posted an eight-save goose-egg in a 2-0 triumph over the Broncos in the same building.
Thursday's blanking was the second in a row for the Griffins after Natalie Bender shut out the SAIT Trojans last Saturday. As a team, they've now locked down on defence and gone 117 minutes and 19 seconds without allowing a goal.
Sank didn't have a ton of work in Olds, but she did make one big save of note in the first period.
"We were up 1-0 and I thought it was a tap-in goal for Olds, and she somehow found her way over to the opposite side of the crease and got her paddle on it," said head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "It was a really, really athletic save."
After that, though, there were long stretches of inactivity for her as the Griffins completely dominated possession in the contest, en route to outshooting the Broncos 30-9.
"We've talked about this before where you go five, six, sometimes 10 minutes without a shot on net and they kind of get one or two in a row," said McAlpine. "It's a hard game for goalies to stay warm and mentally activated. She had a really solid game for us. Our girls actually recognized her as our MVP with just getting nine shots on her."
Jaime Erickson, Chantal Ricker and Carley Jewell scored for MacEwan as the Griffins improved to 10-3-0-0 on the season, three points up on Red Deer College for top spot in the standings, but the Queens have three games in hand.
"I think it started with our energy coming into Olds today, our energy throughout the game and our bench energy, all translated to a really solid 60-minute game for us," said McAlpine of a Griffins team taking nothing for granted against a Broncos squad which upset NAIT twice last weekend.
Erickson's tally came just 3:34 into the contest on a beautiful individual effort that started in her own zone. The defenceman cut through the Olds defence and undressed Lexi Bruce with a goal that she slipped in along the ice.
Ricker made it 2-0 just five minutes later when she picked off a neutral zone pass and went in 2-on-0 with Jayme Doyle. While she looked off her teammate, she decided to shoot instead, tucking it just inside the post.
Jewell put the Griffins comfortably ahead 3-0 midway through the second period, taking a feed from Shyla Jans and walked it in down low.
"It was a nice goal from the area we've been working on a lot – right in tight in the paint, in the crease," said McAlpine. "She was able to move her body inside there, gain position and get a good shot off."
Despite trailing, the Broncos only mustered two shots in the third period and went quietly into the night.
"In general, it was a relatively dominant performance for us and one that was nice for us at this point with one game left heading into the break," said McAlpine.
That last one before the team is off until Jan. 10 takes place on Friday when the Griffins will host the Broncos in the rematch (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, ACAC TV).