Jason Hills, for MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Shyla Jans may not have the hardest shot in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference or on her team, or even among her MacEwan Griffins linemates, but it doesn't matter when you have a knack for scoring goals like she does.
Jans' two-goal effort sparked a big 4-0 win victory for MacEwan over the Olds College Broncos Friday night at the Downtown Community Arena.
The win improved the Griffins' record to 8-2-0-0 as they sit atop the ACAC standings, but it also was a big response after suffering a 2-1 defeat to the Broncos one night earlier.
Rookie forward Jayme Doyle scored her first-career ACAC goal and veteran forward Dominique Scheurer rounded out the scoring for MacEwan, while Griffins goaltender Sandy Heim made 22 saves for her fourth shutout of the 2018-19 campaign and 11th regular season goose-egg of her ACAC career.
"I was proud of them with their response. They came together and played a way better team game and a whole 60 minutes and it showed on the scoreboard tonight," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine.
"Teams come to play us hard every night. We came out and matched their intensity and then we increased ours to another level and we made the most of our scoring chances tonight and it paid off."
Jans scored the Griffins' first two goals, and both were carbon copies of each other. Both were also highlight-reel material.
Jans broke down the left wing and snapped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Broncos goaltender Lexi Bruce and off the crossbar and in.
Then, with 4.4 seconds left in the opening frame, she did it again to give MacEwan a 2-0 lead.
"She's has the most deceptive release in our league. She's a natural goal scorer. When she's given those prime opportunities she makes them count," said McAlpine.
"She's a very underrated player in our league. She puts points up, but she's much more threatening than teams give her credit for."
Despite sitting in top spot in the ACAC conference standings, the Griffins coaching staff has been wanting more out the team's performances as of late.
While they swept Red Deer College last weekend and split their weekend series the week before against their downtown neighbours, the NAIT Ooks, the coaching staff feels the team can play at a higher level.
They showed that off well in their victory over Olds on Friday.
"It came down to playing a team game. We didn't play that way last night and it cost us," said Jans.
"We were all emotionally invested tonight. We were focused on winning and not the individual side of things."
Sometimes the difference between winning and losing can be something as simple as just a little more effort, and MacEwan proved that on Doyle's first-ever ACAC goal.
Veteran forward Chantel Ricker drove through the neutral zone but just as she was getting hit hard into the boards, she fed a perfect pass to Doyle. She paid a price, but the rookie rewarded her as she made a nice move to beat Bruce and give MacEwan a 3-0 lead.
"We're fighting hard to get to the dirty areas, because that's how you get rewarded. If we get knocked off, we're still going to keep fighting for that puck," said Jans.
MacEwan's league-leading power play failed to score, but their league-leading penalty kill stood tall once again. They've only given up three power-play goals all season long.
"Our power play didn't score tonight, but I was pleased because we had a lot of good looks," said McAlpine.
"Our PK is one of our strengths of our team and we were able to build a lot of momentum off it tonight. It's our identity that we need to play with – that hard-working mentality."
Olds had a strong opening period, despite being down 2-0, but the marker from Doyle sucked any momentum they gained from their victory 24 hours earlier. After facing 11 shots in the opening period, Heim faced just 11 shots over the next 40 minutes.
"It was a really good response from Sandy. She may have wanted back one if not both goals she let in last night," said McAlpine.
"She responded the way she can – by shutting the door."