Griffins blanked by Cougars after allowing three goals on special teams

Maria Ayre skates away from Regina's Lauren Focht on Friday night (Calvin Hui photo).
Maria Ayre skates away from Regina's Lauren Focht on Friday night (Calvin Hui photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

REGINA, Sask. – As much as they were prepared to treat Friday's game as a must-win, the Griffins women's hockey team started slowly and found themselves playing catchup all night against the Regina Cougars.

The result was a 3-0 loss that drops them to 3-21-1 in the Canada West standings, while Regina improves to 6-15-2.

"I don't think we were prepared to start on time tonight," said Griffins head coach Chris Leeming. "They came out harder. Regina's still in the playoff picture and they were competing because they've got to earn their way in. I don't think that we played our game quite as well as we could for 60 minutes."

The Cougars moved ahead of Trinity Western into seventh in the conference, but they only did so because the Spartans lost to Manitoba, who remain three points up on Regina for the final playoff spot.

With the loss, the Griffins were officially eliminated from the playoffs. That doesn't mean they didn't try to play like everything is on the line.

"We had that discussion as a group," said Leeming. "We feel that was the mindset going in. I just think we weren't prepared, whether it's mentally, physically, or emotionally, we just didn't have it to start the game. We were playing a little bit of catchup after that. 

"Lots of penalties tonight, as well – kind of on both sides. It kind of broke up the flow of the game a little bit. Late in the first, start of the second, I thought we built some momentum for ourselves, but then with penalties being called both ways, it kind of throws a wrench in the flow of the game."

Brianna Sank stood out again as MacEwan's top player with 25 saves in the loss. Regina goaltender Arden Kliewer earned a 24-save shutout.

"Sank had a good game overall tonight," said Leeming. "She's been consistent for us. Their goalie played well, too, but the shots she got, she saw a lot of them. We just didn't make it difficult enough for the opposition to give up anything."

The Cougars did all of their scoring on special teams in the contest.

Makena Kushniruk opened the scoring for Regina while short-handed in the second period when she picked off a breakout pass, and beat Sank.

Kaylee Dyer and Kushniruk added powerplay goals in the third period to put the game to bed.

The teams will meet again on Saturday (4 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).