NAIT escapes with victory in game two

Posted: September 27, 2014

The hottest real estate in Caronport Saturday afternoon were the penalty boxes in Barkman arena as the NAIT Ooks narrowly escaped with a 5-3 victory over the Briercrest Clippers.

Briercrest continued their strong play from the night before, dominating the face-off circle early and matching the visitors shot for shot. Top NAIT defenseman Sam Waterfield set up the first goal of the contest with some deft passing, putting the visitors up by one at 5:27. Several clean hits by the Clippers, notably Mark Mackinnon and Erik Robitaille, stripped away some of their opponents' mental discipline, as the Ooks allowed their aggression to get a little out of hand shortly thereafter. NAIT took what would be two separate misconducts for head shots late in the opening period, and Brett Lafond made them pay, rifling a shot past NAIT's Kenny Cameron to even the score going into the first intermission. Josh Anderson and last year's leading scorer, Jacob Baribeau, assisted.

NAIT responded with a power play goal of their own 1:22 into the second period, followed by some controversy a minute later as a third NAIT goal was allowed despite an Ooks player laying on top of the Briercrest goaltender Connor Dobberthien. Briercrest demonstrated no letdown in their own mental game, however, responding 5:32 into the second period when Robitaille and Micah Abbott set up Dirk de Waal's power play tally. There would be no scoring throughout the remainder of the period, partly thanks to Briercrest's first year defenseman BJ Pirus breaking up a threatening two on one at the eighteen minute mark. Shots through two periods favoured the guests, 28-23.

Facing a one goal deficit at the outset of the final twenty minutes just as in last night's game, Briercrest displayed a growing assurance in their ability as a team, registering the first three shots on net and showing the 14-time league champion Ooks no fear. An icing call against Briercrest and the subsequent tired shift showcased the talents of Dobberthien, as he turned aside a flurry of pressure to keep the score within one. The visitors kept on pressing, and were rewarded with a power play goal at 6:43 of the third to restore the two goal lead. Once again, Briercrest responded. Aaron Armstrong won a key faceoff, and newcomer Josh Grimm combined with Baribeau to send the puck back to Robitaille at the point, who hammered it past Cameron to narrow the score to 4-3 Ooks. Cheered on by their vocal fans, Briercrest pulled their goalie for an extra attacker and pressed for the late equalizer, but an empty net goal iced the game late for the visitors. Players of the game were Erik Robitaille for the Clippers, and Scott Fellnermayr for the Ooks.

It was another step forward for the Briercrest squad, who have plenty of positives to take away from the weekend- not least of which is their lethal power play, which connected at a 30% success rate against a team that killed off 93% of their penalties a season ago.

Briercrest will look to build on this while on the road next weekend, as they face the Keyano Huskies in Fort McMurray. You will be able to find updates on the hockey team by liking the Briercrest Hockey Facebook page.