Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – MacEwan's super Swiss imports shared the stage as heroes upon delivering a 2-1 shootout victory over the cross-town rival NAIT Ooks in ACAC women's hockey action on Friday night at the Downtown Community Arena.
MacEwan's opening shooter Dominique Scheurer scored the lone goal of the shootout before Swiss countrywoman Sandy Heim stopped all three Ooks attempts and celebrated wildly as her teammates roared off the bench.
"There were high emotions for that game, so my reaction was 'yes, we did it,' " said Heim. "Going into shootouts, it can go either way, so you never know."
NAIT's first shooter, Verca Kuzelova, scored, but officials waved it off on a double touch. Heim then completely shut down Megan Leblanc on a deke that went into her pad before parrying away Carlin Boey's shot attempt with her blocker to seal the win.
"I cannot tell you my secrets," she said with a grin.
On the other end, Scheurer threw a deke and slid the puck through the wickets of NAIT goaltender Kaitlyn Slator on the Griffins first attempt.
"It's something that she works on regularly in practice," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "She's got that classic set of European hands and can use it so well, and she scores goals like that for us all the time."
Jaime Erickson was poke-checked on MacEwan's second attempt, but thanks to Heim, they didn't need another.
"It was a really important game for us as a team," said Heim. "We wanted to play as a team, not individually. I think we did that.
"We gave them a point, which is the bad side of it, but we needed those two points because we want to end up first before the break."
With the result, the Griffins (10-3-0-0) moved within a point of NAIT (10-2-1-0) for top spot in the ACAC. They'll have a chance to move ahead of them with a win in the rematch on Dec. 1 (2 p.m., outdoors in Falun, Alta.).
Although her great work in the shootout is still fresh in the memories of fans at the game, Heim's finest save came with just under five minutes left in the third period. With the score stuck at 1-1, she flashed the leather to catch Brittany Savard's hard tip in front off Boey's shot from the top of the left circle.
"Game changer," said McAlpine. "That's exactly what Sandy does – (gives) frustration to the other team where they think they've finished the game off and Sandy comes up with a massive save for us. That was a huge momentum shift on our bench and we were able to dominate in overtime."
Technically, the Griffins dominated for most of the game, too, outshooting the Ooks 50-23. But as has been the case in several games this season, a combination of some timely saves by the opposing tender and missed opportunities cost the Griffins a win in regulation.
"I told them in the dressing room, 'as a coach I'm not really sure how to fix the problem,' " said McAlpine. "So, we'll just continue to work on the things that we do in terms of goal scoring and taking shots, where we're taking shots, and second chances.
"I thought the girls played a really, really great team game today," she continued. "It could have been 4-1, but it wasn't. We're in a situation where we ended up giving a point that we shouldn't have, but NAIT and MacEwan are always a good rivalry. It was a good game."
NAIT's lone goal of the contest came on their first shot when Leblanc buried a giveaway from the slot just 3:02 into the night.
MacEwan tied it up later in the first, though, when Kyrelle Skoye sifted a wrister through traffic from the point and it ping-ponged off a couple of bodies past Slator.
The NAIT goalie was solid the rest of the way, though, making a number of big saves, including a blocker stop to shut down Shyla Jans' second-period breakaway.