Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON - MacEwan's Shyla Jans found the top corner in the fourth round of the shootout to decide a thrilling ACAC women's hockey game between bitter rivals on Friday night.
Backed by a 47-save performance from goalie Sandy Heim, the Griffins scored a huge 3-2 win over the visiting NAIT Ooks.
"It was a huge win for us," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "I think mentally, definitely, heading into playoff situation where I'm sure we'll face NAIT at some point, I think it's always good to have that mental edge.
"We've been struggling a bit in the second half at home, so I think that was a big win for us to be able to exact our home-ice control."
Things appeared to be going the way of the visitors for the majority of the game as NAIT jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Kendra Hanson scored an unassisted tally at 5:45 of the first period. When Veronika Kuzelova made it 2-0 for the Ooks midway through the third period, it wasn't looking good for the Griffins.
"It took us a while to get going," said McAlpine. "They were outshooting us through the first two periods and in the third and overtime is where we took over the game to help swing the momentum."
Carley Jewell scored a power-play marker with just over eight minutes left to get the Griffins on the board and then set up Jans on another power play three-and-a-half minutes later to send the game to overtime.
"We actually had to kill a penalty with 3:30 left, so huge kill for us – it helped with the momentum," said McAlpine.
"We dominated the overtime. I think possession-wise it was 90-10. We had tons of opportunities but weren't able to capitalize. But we were able to clinch the win the shootout."
A lot of the win is thanks to Heim, who earned MacEwan's player of the game with a .959 save percentage in the contest. Then again, NAIT's goalie, Tara Bouvette, was no slouch either, making 36 saves to earn player of the game for the Ooks.
"It was a goaltender battle," said McAlpine. "The shots were ridiculous on both sides. It was a shooting gallery."
With the win, the Griffins improve to 13-8-0 on the season, while NAIT falls to 12-5-2. They're tied for second in the ACAC standings, but the Ooks have two games in hand. The rivals will meet again on Saturday (7 p.m., NAIT Arena).