Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – They battled through more than 49 minutes of scoreless, defensive hockey before Nikki Reimer and Chantal Ricker took over the game and delivered a 2-0 win for MacEwan over Red Deer College in ACAC women's hockey action on Saturday night.
Midway through the third period, Ricker missed the net, but the puck caromed off the end boards right to Reimer who jammed it in for the winning goal at the Downtown Community Arena.
Just two minutes later, Reimer passed over to Ricker who sifted a shot under Karlee Fetch's blocker to seal the 2-0 result.
"Nikki passed to me from the far side and I just accepted the puck and went around and shot it high," Ricker said. "She's a good goalie, but I like playing against her."
Fetch was solid in stopping 20 on Saturday, but MacEwan's Natalie Bender was perfect, making 24 saves for the shutout.
"I think she did a really good job finding pucks through traffic," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "I think there was one critical save for us in the second period – kind of a point-blank opportunity that we gave them – that was a game-changer at that point in terms of outcome.
"I think Bender hasn't maybe started the way that she wanted to or did last year, so this was a good boost for her."
With the result, the Griffins (7-1-0-0) further stretch their lead atop the ACAC standings, now six points ahead of NAIT, who have two games in hand. RDC (2-4-0-0) are back in fourth.
MacEwan was fortunate to get the win on Saturday, though, as they were almost lulled to sleep by Red Deer's strong defensive shell for the first two periods.
"I think the biggest thing we talked about is we just needed to switch on the intensity," said McAlpine, who delivered a message going into the third period. "I thought we kind of showed up the rink tonight maybe hoping for a win because we were dominant last night. We knew Red Deer was going to push back and I think it took us until the third period to actually respond."
Playing just 20 minutes of good hockey in an evening isn't usually a recipe for success, but the Griffins will take it.
"The hard part as a coaching staff is we seem to be able to get away with showing up for one period sometimes, more than often capitalizing and taking the game, so you get negatively reinforced often," said McAlpine. "But it was nice to come away with a win."
The contest was well whistled with a combined 28 minutes in penalties between the teams. And wouldn't you know it, MacEwan's powerplay continues to produce, going 2-for-8. The Griffins have now scored nine goals with the man advantage in their past three games.
"I thought our powerplay's getting a lot better throughout the year, especially our PP2," said Ricker. "Our PP1 is usually getting all the goals, but our PP2 really stepped up today."
MacEwan next heads to Olds (2-3-1-0) on Nov. 1 (7 p.m.) and will host the Broncos on Nov. 2 (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).