Griffins build early lead before conceding four third period goals in 5-3 loss to Spartans

The Griffins built an early 3-1 lead on Trinity Western, but the visitors came out flying in the third period, rallying back to win the game (Rebecca Chelmick photo).
The Griffins built an early 3-1 lead on Trinity Western, but the visitors came out flying in the third period, rallying back to win the game (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Their lead was fleeting, but it was an enjoyable one while it lasted.

Up 3-1 on Trinity Western, despite putting only nine shots on net through the first 40 minutes, the Griffins women's hockey team was only a period away from a weekend sweep.

But the levy eventually broke as the huge shots advantage the Spartans enjoyed paid off for the visitors in four unanswered third-period goals – including one into an empty net – as they skated off with a 5-3 victory.

MacEwan had just two shots in the final frame as TWU outskated and outworked them all over the ice to steal the victory.

"Honestly, I don't think as a team we really gave up," said assistant coach Cody Leeming. "We were engaged for the entire game and our compete and energy was there. It's just sometimes other teams maybe want it a little more. 

"I'm not saying we didn't want it, but they came out with that pep in their step and were hungry to get back in the game and win. That might have been the little difference."

Essentially, Leeming liked what the Griffins brought, it's just that TWU had another level.

"I don't really want to throw us down because I did like our compete and energy throughout the game," he said. "But just sometimes other teams want it a little bit more."

With the result, which seals a weekend split for the Canada West rivals, the Spartans improve to 6-5-1, while the Griffins fall to 2-10-0.

Brianna Sank was holding the Griffins in the contest early, while their otherworldly shooting percentage – three goals on nine shots – was the reason they were ahead. In reality, the Griffins weren't scoring because of quantity, rather by quality chances in crashing the net.

Brianna Sank gets a toe on a TWU shot for one of her 25 saves in the contest (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Ella Maternick opened the scoring at 17:24 of the first period when Tess Collier's shot into traffic ended up on her stick and she buried it past Mabel Maltais. It was the rookie's second goal of her Canada West career, both of them coming this weekend vs. TWU.

"She's a little waterbug out there, per se," said Leeming. "She's just a go-getter. She shows up and works. Same as we talked about yesterday – she's a great skater and is always hungry around pucks. She just got rewarded for being hungry and hunting those pucks. She got to the net front, bore down and buried that puck."

Kate Klassen tied the game 6:36 into the second period, but the Griffins' response was perfect. Just 19 seconds later, Jesse Jack jumped on a loose puck that bounced out front and sifted it through Maltais' legs before she could react.

In the final minute of the second period, Shaelyn Hopkins sent through a power-play point shot that was tipped by a Spartans player right onto Jack's stick and she put a shot off Maltais' pad that was shoved home by Mila Verbicky.

If only the Griffins could have had more of that because 11 shots is rarely enough for you to win a hockey game.

"It's something we kind of talk about daily is just getting more pucks to the net," said Leeming. "Good things are going to happen when pucks go to the net. We got rewarded when we did that today. 

"But anytime we get around the 10-15 shot range, it leaves you wanting a little bit more. Hopefully, we kind of realize with more pucks going to the net good things are going to happen – get to those gritty areas and score goals like we've done this weekend."

Brooklyn Anderson scored twice for the Spartans in the third, while Kara Yackel and Kyra McDonald also tallied to lift the visitors to victory.

Sank finished with 25 saves for the Griffins.

Next up for MacEwan is a home-and-home series with the Mount Royal University Cougars Nov. 17-18 with Saturday's game at the Downtown Community Arena (5 p.m., Canada West TV).