Jason Hills, For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON — Chantal Ricker's name has been well documented in the MacEwan Griffins history books, so fitting the fifth-year forward and alternate captain added one more feat her legend.
Ricker scored the game-winning goal to give MacEwan a 2-1 victory over the visiting Regina Cougars, the program's first-ever U SPORTS win, Saturday afternoon at the Downtown Community Arena.
The Calgary product scored 35 goals at the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference level in her first four years with the Griffins, but Ricker pulled out something new in her goal scoring arsenal for her first Canada West conference goal.
"I took a slap shot. I don't think I've ever scored like that," smiled Ricker, who gave MacEwan a 2-0 lead at the 7:59 mark of the second period.
"It was fun. I may have to try it more often."
Rylee Gluska opened the scoring for MacEwan, while Trinity Grove scored the lone marker for the Cougars.
Brianna Sank was outstanding between the pipes for MacEwan, making 37 saves in the victory, while Katie Crowther made 21 saves in the loss for Regina.
"It's an amazing feeling. We've been waiting for this for a really long time, and I'm really proud of our group. We fought to the bitter end," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine.
"Regina didn't make it easy on us. They really pushed back in the third period, but we found a way.
"I said at the beginning of the year that our goal (this season) is to compete every game, and we absolutely did that this weekend."
After a 2-1 win on Friday night, the Cougars were looking for the weekend series sweep, and they came out strong in the opening frame, but Sank had other aspirations as she made some big stops to keep the game scoreless throughout the opening 20 minutes.
"Sanks was outstanding," said McAlpine.
"She faced nearly 40 shots tonight and she wasn't going to be denied in the dying minutes when they pushed for that tying goal.
"Her play really sparked us, but at the same time she has that calming presence back there and she settles things down in panicky situations."
The Griffins work the puck around in Regina's zone during Saturday's game. MacEwan earned its first Canada West win in the 2-1 triumph (Eduardo Perez photo).
MacEwan took a 1-0 lead at the 7:01 mark as Gluska re-directed a Ricker pass to beat Crowther between the legs.
That goal finally swung the momentum, MacEwan's way, and that led to Ricker's goal just 4:58 later.
But despite being down two goals, Regina continued to put pressure on the Griffins, finally cutting into MacEwan's lead on a breakaway goal from Grove with 1:33 left in the second period.
MacEwan was forced to rely on Sank even more in the third period after getting into penalty trouble early and late in the period.
Sank saved her best for late in the third, making a flurry of saves, including a right pad stop off a redirection from forward Raea Gilroy on the doorstep.
"We definitely have never given up this many shots in ACAC, it was a big change, but I was ready for the challenge," said Sank.
"I was seeing the puck really well today, and our defence was clearing the lanes well, and our PK was outstanding."
MacEwan killed off all seven of Regina's power plays in the win, and were a perfect 11-for-11 in the weekend series against the Cougars.
Special teams tend to always play a role in wins and losses and the Griffins penalty kill is off to a great start.
"Our PK gave us a chance to win tonight," said McAlpine.
"It's been something that has been strong for us all throughout the preseason, and it's because we have a group of girls that are willing to sacrifice and willing to do the hard stuff and they were exceptional today."
UP NEXT: The Griffins will face the University of Calgary Dinos next weekend on the road in Calgary.