Griffins have many positives to build on despite heartbreaking 5-4 OT loss to Dinos in third preseason game

Rylee Gluska puts some pressure on Calgary Dinos goalie Gabrielle Durante on Saturday night (Jaelyn Birch photo).
Rylee Gluska puts some pressure on Calgary Dinos goalie Gabrielle Durante on Saturday night (Jaelyn Birch photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The way it finished for the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team on Saturday night was certainly heartbreaking – allowing the game-tying goal with 11 seconds left and conceding the game-winner against with six seconds remaining in overtime.

But head coach Lindsay McAlpine was taking stock in the positives after her team wrapped up its third game of their Canada West preseason schedule with a 5-4 OT loss to the Calgary Dinos.

"Out of three games that we've played for our first time playing consistently against Canada West competition, we have a lot of amazing things to build on," she said. "It's three games we can walk away with and be proud of.

"I thought we battled for a full 60 minutes tonight and did a ton of little things right. The biggest gain is we've just gotten better every single game we've played."

MacEwan lost 2-1 at the Alberta Pandas last weekend before falling 2-0 to their cross-town rivals at home on Friday night.

"There's lots to be proud of," said McAlpine. "U of A's a team that's a national contender every year. So, for us to be entering the league and having the success we're having, I think we have to hold our heads up high after these three games."

There's no doubt Saturday's defeat stung a little bit, though, especially since the Griffins outshot the Dinos 37-19 and seemed on their way to a win when Kallie O'Hearn scored with 1:15 left to give them a 4-3 lead.

"Then they came back, pulled their goalie and credit to U of C with some sustained pressure," said McAlpine. "They did a great job of finding someone on the far side and were able to sneak it past our goalie.

"The tying one was with 11 seconds left and the game-winner in overtime was with six seconds (left), so both were a bit heart-wrenching because we had done a great job to pull ahead with 1:15 left."

After Calgary's Sydney Mercier opened the scoring in the first period, Hailey Maurice pulled the Griffins even with a great tally 5:33 into the second when she capitalized on a turnover down low, outwaited Dinos goalie Gabrielle Durante and roofed it.

The teams traded two more goals in the second with Rebecca Clarke scoring for the Dinos and Kyrelle Skoye tallying for MacEwan on a seeing-eye point shot under the bar.

Then came the highlight-reel goal of the whole affair – an inspired rush by veteran forward Jayme Doyle, who went around the entire Dinos defence before driving the net and going upstairs.

"It was a beautiful goal," said McAlpine. "Actually, we scored a ton of beautiful goals tonight – all of them."

After Elizabeth Lang tied the game back up for the Dinos with 2:56 left, defenceman O'Hearn jumped up in the rush and was there to pot a rebound off Chantal Ricker's shot.

But Lang scored again with 11 seconds left to send it to OT and Brooke Dennett won the game for the Dinos on a breakaway goal late in overtime.

Natalie Bender, who played the first 28:12 of the game, made seven saves on eight shots. Brooke Fawcett came on for the final 36:42, finishing with seven stops on 11.

Durante made 33 saves for the Dinos, consistently pressured by the Griffins' offence all night.

"That was probably the best thing for our team to (take out of the game)," said McAlpine. "We were able to find some offensive success."

Next up for the Griffins is a visit to Saskatchewan for a non-conference game on Sept. 24 (7 p.m.).