Behind strong overall effort, Griffins net a point in OT loss to Dinos

Kori Paterson battles for space in front of Dinos goaltender Gabriella Durante on Friday night (Rebecca Chelmick photo).
Kori Paterson battles for space in front of Dinos goaltender Gabriella Durante on Friday night (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The effort was frenetic, and the energy was palpable all over the ice as the Griffins women's hockey team built a 3-1 lead over the Calgary Dinos in the second period on Friday night.

Blocked shots, tenacious checking, and the resolve to get pucks to the net were all in place for the Griffins, who were also being backstopped by a solid game from goaltender Lindsey Johnson.

But the Dinos, who entered the night tied for the last playoff spot, showed desperation late, rallying back to win the Canada West contest 4-3 in overtime.

"We want to battle and compete every single game," said MacEwan's Claire Hobbs of the team's effort. "It was definitely nice to get a point. We would have liked two, but that's the way it goes sometimes. Other teams make good plays."

One of those was the overtime winner by Calgary's Caitlyn Perlinger, who took advantage of a tired MacEwan group who'd been on the ice in three-on-three play for over a minute, walking over the blueline and wiring a shot under the bar.

With the result, the Dinos leapt over both Manitoba (6-10-1) – losers at UBC – and Trinity Western (6-10-1), who fell 3-2 to Alberta, into fifth place at 7-11-1. MacEwan picked up a point to improve to 3-15-1, but are six points back of the final playoff spot.

Beyond the result, the Griffins turned the corner in their play, making the Dinos earn it big time.

"We made some adjustments with our game play, and I thought they responded well to it overall," said MacEwan head coach Chris Leeming. "We asked them to buy into blocking shots and we had a ton of blocked shots tonight. 

"I think we did a lot of good things; they just capitalized on their scoring chances and doubled us up in shots. But the goals we got, I thought we created some scoring chances and offensive opportunities for ourselves, which we've been working on."

Both teams scored on their first shots of the game – MacEwan's Letta Mattheos tallied 2:40 into the contest off a turnover before Calgary's Elizabeth Lang tied it up two minutes later.

Letta Mattheos celebrates her first Canada West goal, which opened the scoring for MacEwan on Friday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

"It was a turnover in the neutral zone on our forecheck and Letta got her first goal, which is great to see," said Leeming. "She's got a good shot and has done good things for us all over the ice, so it was nice to see her get rewarded, too."

Claire Hobbs put the Griffins ahead 2-1 before the first period was out with an important goal for her. After an injury kept her out of eight first-semester games, the tally was her first since Feb. 4 of last season. 

"I was out with an injury and coming back it's tough to get your footing," she said. "This was my first goal of the season and I'm definitely relieved to get it off the back."

Leeming also singled her out for her work in the defensive zone.

"She had probably seven or eight blocked shots or more," he said. "Every time I saw her on the ice, she was in the shot lane. I thought she had a great game and same with Jonny (Lindsey Johnson). Jonny played well and they just had some nice shots that ended up beating her."

Lindsey Johnson makes one of her 33 saves on Friday (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Mila Verbicky put MacEwan up 3-1 early in the second period on a gorgeous coast-to-coast rush that she finished off by driving around a defender to the net and poking it past Gabriella Durante.

"We've been asked them to continue to drive pucks deep in the zone and puck protect so they're not such easy turnovers and she did just that," said Leeming. "The defender gave her a little bit of ice and she just took what was given to her and took it right to the net. That was a nice play."

Ultimately, the lead didn't last as Calgary stormed back with goals by Sydney Mercier and Courtney Kollman to force overtime, setting the stage for Perlinger's winner.

Johnson made 33 saves for MacEwan, while Durante stopped 14 for Calgary.

The teams will meet again on Saturday in Calgary (6 p.m., Canada West TV).