Zachary Dean / For MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – It was exactly the type of game you would expect when you have the ACAC's top two goaltenders squaring off.
With an opportunity for both teams to leap frog NAIT for sole possession of first place in the conference, goaltenders Sandy Heim and Tracie Kikuchi stole the show as the Red Deer Queens shut out the MacEwan Griffins 1-0.
Kikuchi was stellar for Red Deer, stopping all 39 shots that came her way. The Queens played a strong defensive game and kept the majority of the Griffins' shots to the outside, but she was good when called upon and earned her third shutout of the season.
"I thought she had an awesome game," said Griffins captain Sydney Thomlison. "Respect to her."
"Her rebound control is really good," added Jessica Dyck. "She's really good at seeing through players."
Heim was also sensational in making 26 of 27 saves, particularly in the first two periods when the Queens had multiple high-quality scoring chances. Her biggest save of the night came late in the second people when she robbed ACAC leading scorer Ashley Graf with a glove save off a cross-ice one-timer.
"Sandy is awesome," said Thomlison. "When she's on, she's on. We can always count on her."
"It could have been an 8-0 game but she held us in there in the first two periods," said Dyck. "She made some crucial saves."
The game's lone goal came at the 7:27 mark of the first period. Queens defender Rikki Smith scored her second goal of the season when she walked in from the blue-line and snuck a wrist shot past a screened Heim.
Though they didn't register any points, Graf and Jade Petrie were a consistent threat for Red Deer. Heim denied Petrie in recording her 10th goal of the season on a clean breakaway a little over five minutes into the first period. Graf had another chance early in the second period when her line mate found her in the slot for a one timer, but Heim got her right-pad on it.
The game had a physical element to it. There was a total of five body checking penalties and four of them were given to the MacEwan. It's a style of play that the Griffins captain welcomes.
"We like to consider ourselves a hard working, fast team, so with that comes a little bit of body contact," said Thomlison.
The Griffins remain third in the conference with 24 points, while Red Deer moves into the top spot with 27 points, two better than NAIT, who has two games in hand.
MacEwan will be back in action take on Friday, Feb. 3 at the Downtown Community Arena when they take host NAIT at 7 p.m.