EDMONTON – Enjoying two 5-on-3 powerplays in the final six minutes of the game, the Manitoba Bisons finally got the goal they were looking for with just 1:18 left.
And it was a true backbreaker for the Griffins.
Only two seconds after their second two-man advantage in the final six minutes of the game expired, Julia Bird jumped on a loose puck out of a scramble, rang it off both posts and past Brianna Sank to lift the Bisons to a 3-2 win.
It was the only time in the contest that the Griffins trailed.
"The calls that are made are out of our control at the end of the day," said Griffins interim head coach Chris Leeming. "The thing we talked about is what kind of positions we're putting ourselves in even for those to be called.
"Were we reaching? Were we giving second efforts to get body position and defend that way or were we a little bit lazy at times?"
With the result, the Griffins fall to 3-9-1 on the Canada West campaign, while the Bisons improve to 5-8.
MacEwan was left to wonder what could have been after holding 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the contest.
"We hit two posts, so we could easily been up a goal or two," said Leeming. "It just didn't happen."
One of those was by Rebecca Thiessen off a power-play point shot with just over 12 minutes left that beat Manitoba goaltender Emily Shippam, but not the bar.
Allee Isley also hit the post in the second period.
Sank finished with 36 saves for the Griffins – including stopping 19 of 20 in the third period – while Shippam had 23 stops for the Bisons.
"Overall, in terms of consistency, it was an average game, in my opinion," said Leeming. "We had some really strong play from some players and then we had lulls where we were just content with where the game was at.
"We just need a response tomorrow from the whole group."
It didn't take the Griffins long to open the scoring as they came out skating and forechecking, which led to Sydney Hughson's goal, a side of the net chance that just trickled through Shippam 2:45 into the game.
Sydney Hughson opened the scoring for the Griffins just 2:45 into Friday's game (Timothy Matway photo).
Manitoba jumped out to a quick start in the second period and got the tying goal just 1:39 into the middle frame when Molly Kunnas beat Sank.
"I think having a chance to go on the 5-on-3 we have to score," said Doyle. "Schuttler won a battle on the boards, faked a pass to the D and shoved it back door. It slipped through pretty slowly, but as soon as I saw it go in, I was really excited."
Brenna Nicol knocked in the tying goal just 1:10 into the third period to set up the late drama.
While the penalty leger wasn't unfair to MacEwan as they enjoyed more powerplays than Manitoba did early in the game, they were put in a tough spot when Jennifer Andrash's tripping call was followed up by a bodychecking penalty on Kallie O'Hearn, giving the Bisons a two-man advantage for 32 seconds. Bird scored two seconds after Andrash stepped out of the box, as she didn't even get back into the play.
"I think when it comes to getting penalties, we get really low because we're mad about it, but I think we need to keep our spirits high in that situation and start cheering on our team who's on the ice battling in our D zone to get those penalties killed off," said Doyle.
"We just need to focus on keeping our energy high and come out tomorrow and kick their butts," she added with a laugh.
The teams will meet again on Saturday (3 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).