EDMONTON – One team converted their chances and the other didn't, which is the simple way of distilling how the MacEwan Griffins lost 4-0 to the Alberta Pandas on Saturday night.
"I think you hit it on the head," said MacEwan interim head coach Chris Leeming. "If we were really lacking opportunities, it would be a bigger concern.
"I still think we can increase our shot volume and create more traffic in front of our opponent's nets. It's just a matter of having the drive to do it, be committed to that process and buying into it."
Even though the Griffins had their opportunities – a couple of breakaways and some point blank shots throughout the night – the Pandas were full marks for the victory, outshooting MacEwan 33-20 and carrying more of the play.
With the result, Alberta ends the first semester at 12-5-1, while MacEwan is 3-12-1. The Griffins will have their work cut out for them in the new year if they want a playoff spot as they're currently 10 points behind sixth-place Calgary, albeit with two games in hand.
"It's competitive every weekend and it's a building stage in this program, too," said Leeming. "It's where we're at just coming into this league. There's going to be a lot of bumps and bruises – a lot of mountains to climb. That's what we just talked to our group about. It's bigger than ourselves right now at the end of the day."
On Saturday, Payton Laumbach scored twice in the first period for the Pandas, while Abby Soyko and Madison Willan added second period markers.
Brianna Sank slides over to make one of her 29 saves on Saturday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).
From there the contest devolved into one with little flow as a combined 46 minutes of penalties were called on the confounded combatants.
At one point late in the third, the officials huddled together and with captains of both teams for more than five minutes trying to sort out penalties for both sides.
It all added up to a challenging evening for both teams.
"We're a team that likes to try and get engagement from everybody and it's tough to do that because not everybody plays in every situation," said Leeming. "They're penalty kill or powerplay. We were kind of going back and forth like that and then people get missed.
"It's tough to maintain momentum and build energy for ourselves as a group. Some of that's within our control and some of it isn't. That's kind of the discussion we had is focusing our energy on things that are going to be self serving."
Misty Rey earned a 20-save shutout for the Pandas – the first Canada West win and goose-egg for the Edmonton product – while Brianna Sank stopped 29 of 33 for the Griffins.
MacEwan now heads into semester break and is taking some time for self reflection before returning to try and snap a seven-game losing streak.
"We just kind of had that self reflection in the dressing room after the game there," said Leeming. "We wanted to take stock of what we need to do moving forward. We want to acknowledge areas of growth, but also acknowledge what we need to get better at, too.
"We've come a long way from Day 1, for sure, but so have all the other teams. Going back to that competitive nature of the league – we've got to try to continue to build every single day."