EDMONTON, ALTA. - Jenn Gaeckle's late third-period goal would prove to be the winner as the first-placed NAIT Ooks defeated the second-placed MacEwan Griffins in ACAC women's hockey action on Friday night in the NAIT Arena.
The battle of the top two teams began with the Griffins controlling the momentum early. An offensive push by the Griffins led to a defensive fault by the Ooks as Myah Mindus was called for hooking at the 13:29 mark of the opening period. It took the MacEwan Griffins only 17 seconds to capitalize on the powerplay as the Swiss sniper Dominque Scheurer beat Kaitlyn Slator, to give her team a 1-0 lead through twenty minutes of play.
The second period was period was full of everything except goals. Both teams exchanged multiple chances and powerplays as both teams bent but neither broke, resulting in a scoreless middle frame.
In the final period of play, Amanda Murray of the Griffins was called for interference at the 6:27 mark, sending the Ooks to the powerplay for the fifth time of the game. It didn't take the Ooks long to capitalize as Julia Wing beat Sandy Heim five seconds into the man advantage, tieing the game at one.
At the 14:47 mark of the final frame the Griffins would fall yet again into penalty trouble when Karlie Bell was called for body checking. The Ooks maintained offensive zone pressure for almost the entire powerplay, peppering Sandy Heim with shots but were unable to score. Although NAIT didn't score on the powerplay, they were able to sustain pressure carrying momentum late into the game. With 2:31 remaining in the game Delaney Martin fed Jenn Gaeckle out in front who one-timed it past Sandy Heim from on the doorstep, giving the Ooks a 2-1 lead. Gaeckle's goal would hold up as the game-winner, handing the home team the victory.
"Start to finish it was an incredible performance by the entire team. Tonight we exemplified what it means to be resilient. We went down 1-0 early in the first period and were issued the majority of the penalties throughout the game. We feel we played some of our best positional hockey tonight and our attention to detailed paid off in the final minutes. We are proud of our team's performance tonight, but we recognize that we need to quickly reset and be ready to go for tomorrow," said Ooks' head coach, Stef Thomson following the game.
Player of the Game
NAIT Ooks - Jenn Gaeckle
MacEwan Griffins - MacEwan Griffins
The Big Picture
With the win tonight, the NAIT Ooks improve to 15-2-2 and remain in first in the ACAC, five points ahead of the Griffins (13-4-1)
The two teams will now rematch tomorrow night in the Downtown Community Arena at 6:00 pm.