Bender breaks program's career shutout mark as Griffins blank Spartans 2-0

Natalie Bender made 19 saves for her 12th career regular season shutout at MacEwan (TWU Athletics photo).
Natalie Bender made 19 saves for her 12th career regular season shutout at MacEwan (TWU Athletics photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

-With files from Spartans Athletics

LANGLEY, B.C. – Natalie Bender made 19 saves for her program record-breaking 12th career shutout as the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team blanked the Trinity Western Spartans 2-0 on Friday night.

First Canada West shutout, first Friday night win and first triumph over their fellow first-year U SPORTS hockey newcomer were among the other accomplishments for the Griffins as they improved to 4-5-0-0 on the season. TWU fell to 2-7-0-0.

"She made the saves she needed her to make," said McAlpine of Bender's 12th career regular season shutout with the Griffins, which breaks a record she shared with Sandy Heim. "I don't know that Trinity tested her to the extent of other teams, but I can think of a couple saves she made that kept the game close."

Rylee Gluska and Mackenzie Dachuk scored for the Griffins as they moved a point behind Alberta for the final playoff spot.

"It's huge for us for our program identity against the other new team in the league," said McAlpine. "But I think for us just looking down the road where things play out in terms of standings, I think these games are very critical at Trinity.

"We haven't had a win on a Friday night, so we'll take this one."

Gluska opened the scoring 6:56 into the game when she tipped Kyrelle Skoye's point shot past TWU goaltender Mabel Maltais.

Dachuk scored an insurance marker late in the second period.

"Off a net-front scramble, we gained possession behind the net and she was able to wrap it around and tuck it in past the goalie," said McAlpine.

From there, the Griffins preserved the shutout by the skin of their teeth. TWU captain Neisha Germann hit both posts in a second period powerplay attempt.

McAlpine noted while the result was nice, the contest wasn't exactly their finest effort. Having not played in 20 days, the Griffins were rusty, but were able to grind it out.

"It looked like we hadn't played in a while," she said. "We came up scrambly and choppy and looked tired. But we managed to pull it out, so we've just got to look forward to tomorrow and see what we can do. We were just below average at best tonight."

The teams will meet in the rematch on Saturday (2 p.m. MT, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).