Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – The final undefeated team in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's hockey has fallen.
Bidding to go through ever team in the league with a perfect record in the first third of the season, the MacEwan Griffins saw their seven-game winning streak come to a halt with a 4-2 loss to the Red Deer College Queens on Saturday night at the Downtown Community Arena.
"I don't love to lose," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "I don't think any elite athlete loves to lose, but I do think it was bound to happen, if I'm being honest, in a league as close as ours.
"At this point of the season, I'm really proud that the girls went seven straight. They lost to a great Red Deer team who had a great game tonight."
MacEwan remains on top of the ACAC standings with a 7-1-0-0 record, while RDC improves to 4-1-0-0.
If a hockey games were won on shots and possession, the Griffins would still be undefeated as they put the Queens under all night, outshooting them 41-23.
But Karlee Fetch made 39 saves and the Queens played a tight defensive style that frustrated the Griffins all evening.
"Fetch played outstanding," said McAlpine. "She made a couple critical saves at the end when we had a 6-on-4 opportunity and they blocked a ton of shots. We had 41 shots and upwards of 60 directed at the net that they made some really key blocks as well.
"Red Deer always plays hard. I thought their intensity was higher today than it was yesterday. It was a well-deserved win for them."
MacEwan beat RDC 1-0 on Friday in Red Deer behind a six-save shutout by Natalie Bender. But the Queens solved her 5:57 into the first period on Saturday when Tyra Anderson scored on the powerplay.
The Griffins tied it seven minutes later when Jessi Rampton tipped Kyrelle Skoye's shot past Fetch.
After RDC regained the lead in the second period on another powerplay goal, this time by Avery Lajeunnesse, Shyla Jans replied with a man-advantage marker of her own, tying it 2-2 by chipping a rebound past Fetch.
But the Queens scored twice against the run of play in the third period as Carissa Hogan and Brooklyn Rowley put them ahead for good.
"We had puck control and puck possession and were playing in their zone for a significant amount of time," said McAlpine of the final frame. "They got a weird break and popped in a goal that I think Bender would love to have back. They capitalized on a lot fewer opportunities that they had."
After scoring goals in bunches earlier in the season, the Griffins struggled to bury their chances against the Queens, scoring just three times in two games.
"I'd never use the excuse of a hot goalie when you have that many shots on net," said McAlpine. "We definitely had point-blank opportunities where we missed the net, we hit the crossbar, we fanned on it … so absolutely an area where we need to continue to get better and continue to focus on. On the flip side, they capitalized on much fewer opportunities they were given."
The Griffins head into a bye weekend before returning to action on Nov. 15 vs. NAIT (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena).