REGINA – Nothing makes an eight-hour bus ride back home feel better than when you've tucked away two points.
Yes, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team earned the right to be a bit jovial after recording their first win of the Canada West season – a 3-2 overtime triumph over the Regina Cougars on Saturday.
"Until the last weekend (of preseason) against Lakeland, we didn't have any wins, but we were in games," said interim head coach Chris Leeming. "I think it's a big morale boost for everyone to head home on the bus with a win in our back pockets."
Makenna Schuttler, who scored MacEwan's lone goal in a 3-1 loss to Regina on Friday, won a puck battle in the corner and found Mila Verbicky wide open in front 1:40 into the overtime session. She made no mistake.
"It was a quick low to high pass into the slot," said Leeming. "Mila was all by herself and she just one-touched it into the net."
With the victory, both teams now sit 1-1-0 on the young Canada West season.
But the Cougars fought back to earn a point with third-period markers by Hannah Pennell and Heather Fiske.
"It would have been nice to get a (weekend) sweep or even win in regulation because we gave away a point with the overtime," said Leeming. "But we want to celebrate the victories and take some positives out of the weekend. Today's game proved when we play our style of game, we're going to be a competitive team."
The biggest difference for the Griffins on Saturday compared to Friday was they stayed out of the box. In contrast to 22 minutes of penalties en route to losing the weekend opener, they has just 12 this time and held Regina to 1-for-5 with the man advantage.
"Yeah, we didn't have to kill penalties for an entire period this game," said Leeming. "That allowed us to maintain some consistency and establish our forecheck and put the pressure on them instead of having to play for a couple minutes, kill another couple minutes of penalties and so and so forth.
"We saw a bit more flow to the game today and I think it allowed us to play our game and find a way to win the game."
Brianna Sank made 23 saves for the win.
The Griffins return to Edmonton to prepare for their home opener on Friday vs. cross-town rival Alberta (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).