Griffins blank Trojans behind Bender's 23 saves to regain top spot in ACAC standings

Griffins blank Trojans behind Bender's 23 saves to regain top spot in ACAC standings

Austin Connelly, For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Natalie Bender made 23 saves for her second shutout of the season and Breanna Golosky scored the all-important lone goal on a beautiful individual effort as the MacEwan Griffins blanked the SAIT Trojans 1-0 on Saturday to regain top spot in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's hockey standings.

"Bender was exceptional for us tonight," said head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "I thought (Shyla) Kirwer, Golosky, and (Karlie) Bell were our most threatening offensive line and the best line in all three zones."

The result gives the Griffins a weekend sweep over SAIT (1-9-0-0), improving their record to 9-3-0-0, as they jump over idle Red Deer College (8-1-1-0) to regain first place in the standings. 

"I felt pretty good out there," said Bender, who now has nine shutouts in her Griffins career – tied with Morgan Glover for second all-time behind recently graduated Sandy Heim who has 12. "I thought the team did a good job of keeping the girls to the outside and I thought I played a solid game all around." 

One of her best stops was a brilliant blocker save from the slot on a dangerous opportunity by the Trojans early in the game. 

Being held scoreless in the first period wasn't due to a lack of trying on the Griffins part as they peppered Trojans goalie Kaylin Schellenberg with 13 shots, but she was equal to the task each time. The story remained the same in the second period, except for this time the Griffins really started to pile on the pressure trying to crack the Trojan's netminder.

Golosky would finally break the deadlock for the Griffins streaking hard down the right side of the ice fending off her defender, before quickly cutting tight in front of the net and sliding the puck through the goalie's legs for the 1-0 lead, at 10:45 in the second.

"I think that one was coming for a long time, so I thought it was just a matter of time," said Golosky on her first goal of the season and game-winner.

It's also the third goal of Golosky's Griffins career and, amazingly, all have been game-winners.

"That depth scoring is the only way you can win a championship in this league," said McAlpine. "Tonight, was an example where I couldn't be happier that Bre (Golosky) steps up."

Midway through the third period, the Griffins came so close to doubling their lead when they crashed the net but somehow Schellenberg was able to reach back and snag the bouncing puck with her glove before it crossed the line.

Although the Griffins pinned the Trojans back in their own end for most of the second and third period, they couldn't get the insurance goal. But they were able to weather SAIT's comeback attempt on a 6-on-4 powerplay in the final 1:11 to sneak out with the win.

Bender would make 23 saves in the shutout win while Schellenberg would give up just the one goal on 44 shots.

"Two more games and I think we can find out a little closer to where we are, but we know it's going to be a hard second half," said McAlpine, whose team closes out the first semester with a series against Olds College, hosting the Broncos on Friday (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, ACAC TV).