Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – It won't count in the standings, but the triumph that the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey team pulled off on Sunday will count big time in the minds of the players.
Rookie Sean Comrie scored 43 seconds into overtime as the Griffins beat the Mount Royal University Cougars 5-4 in their first home preseason game as a Canada West team.
"It's nice to get rewarded," said Griffins head coach Mike Ringrose. "For us, it's always going to be about the process and making sure we play the game the right way. If we do that, we give ourselves an opportunity to get rewarded and tonight we were.
"It's an exciting moment, for sure, for our program as we continue to embark on this new challenge. And it's an exciting moment for our guys and a good morale boost, too. It's obviously early in the season, but we're happy to get the split and we'll continue to build from here."
MRU had beaten the Griffins 6-1 in Calgary on Friday night.
Ringrose noted adjustments from that paid off in Sunday's victory.
"Friday night was our first game in a very long time, but certainly we recognized very quickly that we weren't competitive enough and we weren't skating," he said.
"The focus for us was just starting to craft our identity a little bit," he added. "A big focus to that was just making sure we are those two things: one, that we're moving our feet and working for close support all the time and, two, that we're competitive.
"I thought our guys did a better job tonight and we got a good performance in net again from Ports, so we were able to change our fate and get the win."
James Porter made 38 saves in the contest, while both Comrie and Kole Gable led the way offensively with a goal and an assist each, and both Ryley Appelt and Jordan Davies chipped in two helpers apiece.
However, Comrie's goal salvaged a positive result for the Griffins.
"We lost the faceoff at centre ice," said Ringrose of the lead-up to the winning goal. "We were good in coverage. The puck ended up getting turned over and we were able to get a zone entry.
"Really, we just found an opportunity to get a puck to the net and it made its way in. Nothing special about the play itself, but obviously a special moment for our group."
Next up for the Griffins men's hockey team is a home-and-home preseason series against cross-town rival Alberta on Oct. 1-2 with Saturday's game back at the Downtown Community Arena (5 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op).