Austin Connelly, For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Marc-Olivier Daigle saved the day with 41 saves in a dazzling performance as the MacEwan Griffins scored a 5-2 win over Concordia on Saturday at the Downtown Community Arena to complete a weekend sweep of their cross-town rivals.
On the strength of their fourth-straight win, the Griffins improved to 13-5-0-0 while dropping the Thunder to 7-9-1-1 in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men's hockey standings.
"We came out flat and we weren't ready to go – we thought it was going to be an easy night," said interim head coach Sean Ringrose after the Griffins blasted the Thunder 9-1 on Friday. "Give them credit. They came out extremely hard in the first period."
Concordia hit a crossbar on a first-period breakaway and then was denied by Daigle on a sensation cross-crease save. Daigle followed that up with a brilliant glove save on the powerplay to keep the game scoreless.
"As a team, we put 14 goals (on the weekend) in the back of the net, which gives us a great chance to win," said Daigle. "We knew they were going to come out hard and we were able to weather the storm. It's good to get those four points this weekend; we are in a battle until the end here, so those are points we can't drop."
MacEwan's best first-period chance came when Brayden Hyland danced around a defender but couldn't solve Thunder goalie Tanner McCorriston in tight.
But it wouldn't take long before they eventually did.
Colin Schmidt, who scored four times on Friday, stole the puck off a hard forecheck and took it strong to the net from the corner. On the ensuing scramble 5:30 into the middle frame, Jordan Taupert roofed the puck to open the scoring.
Nicolas Correale would get into the action on the powerplay, wiring a one-timer top shelf after a gorgeous cross-ice pass from Taupert to extend the lead to 3-0 with 4:24 left in the second.
Schmidt made it 4-0 on his fifth of the weekend with 12:44 remaining in the game before Chase Miller put MacEwan up 5-0 with 6:59 left, speeding in on a breakaway and chasing McCorriston from the net.
Concordia replied with two late goals – from Tyler Benko and Matt Benko, the latter coming on a powerplay – as they snapped Daigle's shutout bid late for a second-straight night.
"We started taking far too many penalties and kind of shot ourselves in the foot," said Ringrose. "If we are going to put ourselves in the box the entire third period, they're going to put some goals on the board."
The Griffins have a home-and-home series against UAlberta-Augustana on Jan. 24-25 with the latter contest at the Downtown Community Arena.