Strong start leads Griffins to huge 4-3 win over visiting Calgary Dinos

Jayme Doyle celebrates after opening the scoring for the Griffins in the first period on Saturday (Railene Hooper photo).
Jayme Doyle celebrates after opening the scoring for the Griffins in the first period on Saturday (Railene Hooper photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Flying out of the gates with their best period of the season, the MacEwan Griffins spring-boarded off an early 2-0 lead to beat the Calgary Dinos 4-3 in Canada West women's hockey action Saturday afternoon.

They were relentless, coming in waves in a terrific opening 20 minutes where they outshot the visitors 21-3.

"That's the first time we've been in this position so far in Canada West and it felt nice not to chase a game," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine.

Jayme Doyle opened the scoring 11:37 into the game, jumping on a loose puck and burying it far top corner. Then, Kallie O'Hearn's well-placed point shot put MacEwan up 2-0 with 30 seconds left in the opening frame.

"I just loved that we started well," said McAlpine. "It's been a focus for us over the course of numerous games now where our first period's been a struggle. So, we talked about it in the dressing room and the girls came out flying.

"It's probably the best period that we've had to date. Puck position, zone entries … I thought we got pucks to the hard area of the ice at the net front. Overall, a really solid period against a strong Canada West team."

So, it was Calgary chasing the game after that and they made it tough on the Griffins, putting 37 shots on net in the final 40 minutes, including a furious rally attempt in the waning moments. But Griffins goaltender Natalie Bender made two highlight-reel saves at the end – robbing Taylor Beck on a point-blank shot and then sliding on her stomach to somehow get a pad on a one-timer from Elizabeth Lang with 22 seconds left.

She finished with 37 saves.

"Bendy always plays fantastic and she really kept it together for us at the end," said Griffins forward Chantal Ricker, who was one of three MacEwan players with two-point afternoons.

Hailey Maurice put the Griffins up 3-0 with a powerplay goal 5:25 into the second period, cashing in on a rebound off Ricker's initial shot.

After Calgary finally got on the board with a powerplay goal of their own at 7:27 – (Holly Reuther put a cross-seam pass over Bender's shoulder) – the Griffins went back to work with the man advantage as Ricker restored their three-goal lead by tipping in Kyrelle Skoye's point shot.

"It was nice," she said of her third goal of the season. "I felt like my whole line was working together. There were a whole bunch of girls contributing."

The Dinos wouldn't go away, though, pulling within two before the second ended when Sage Desjardins took advantage of a broken play in the slot, whirling around and firing it under the bar.

After Calgary's Gabriella Durante stopped Mackenzie Dachuk point blank early in the third period – one of 32 saves for her on the day – the Dinos pulled within one when Emily Hill juked a defender and went top shelf.

But the Griffins hung on for an important win that moves them even with Calgary at 3-5-0 for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Canada West standings.

"It feels good that we can compete with these teams," said Ricker. "We have so much depth on our team and we just need to keep pushing ourselves and come out for the full game, not just one period. I think we really showed that today that we can compete."