Lost D zone details cost Griffins in 4-0 loss to Dinos, but they emerge decently with weekend split

Brianna Sank keeps the puck out in a net-front scramble on Saturday (Derek Harback photo).
Brianna Sank keeps the puck out in a net-front scramble on Saturday (Derek Harback photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Giving up three nearly carbon copy goals – one-timers on passes from behind the net – the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team fell 4-0 to the Calgary Dinos in their home opener on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena.

The score came as a result of a slow burn – cumulative lost battles and missed assignments in the defensive zone.

"We've been trying to tighten up our D zone," said head coach Chris Leeming. "For that to happen is not ideal. I think yesterday, we tightened up our D zone and didn't give up as many of those Grade A scoring chances, despite getting outshot. 

"It's just details at the end of the day. We got beat off the wall, we were puck watching a little bit, and those are the situations that develop when those things happen."

With the result, both teams are now 1-1-0 on the young Canada West season after MacEwan shut out Calgary 3-0 on Friday night in #YYC.

On Saturday, the Dinos struck first 6:41 into the contest when Elizabeth Lang went top cheese, one-timing Courtney Kollman's pass from behind the net.

Jolie Nafziger beat goaltender Brianna Sank in the exact same way (high glove side), converting Kyla Mitenko's behind-the-net pass late in the second period to put Calgary up 2-0.

Sydney Mercier made it 3-0 9:17 in the third after walking out from the wall untouched and roofing a point-blank shot under the bar.

Nafziger scored her second of the game just over two minutes later, one-timing Evelyn Lawrence's pass from behind the net high blocker side.

MacEwan's best chance to get back in the game came when they had a 5-on-3 powerplay for 1:29 in the middle of the second period – only trailing 1-0 at the time – but they generated very little, relying on individual plays instead of moving the puck around.

Calgary took control of the game not long after killing it off and never looked back.

"Special teams can definitely sway momentum in a game," said Leeming. "It helped us yesterday. We were five-for-five on the kill and 1-for-1 on the powerplay, so it definitely impacted the game yesterday. 

"They have a way of impacting it, but it's bigger picture, too. We've got to play 60 minutes, detail-oriented for 60 minutes on 200 feet of the ice. I think that's where they were better than us tonight."

MacEwan's Jesse Jack steps in front of a shot from Calgary's Brooklin Fry on Saturday (Derek Harback photo).

Calgary's Amelia Awad earned a 22-save shutout. Sank made 27 saves in a losing effort for MacEwan.

The Griffins will need to be content with a weekend split, not bad considering the Dinos were ranked ahead of them in the Canada West preseason coaches' poll.

"It's nice to get points every weekend," agreed Leeming. "That was something we were looking to do. 

"I think our team has more overall as a group. They were the better team for 60 minutes tonight."

Next chance for MacEwan to prove that is Oct. 6-7 when they host Saskatchewan.