MacEwan gets past Briercrest in heated contest

Posted: January 22, 2016

After a stirring rendition of the national anthem by Briercrest music student Tim Petkau, Friday night's hockey game between Briercrest and the Grant McEwan Griffins suddenly had a tough act to follow.

There was palpable urgency on the part of the visiting team as they are tied in the standings for the last playoff spot in the ACAC. Briercrest has also had success at home against the Griffins, going 2-1-1 in the past four matchups at the Barkman Arena.

Briercrest came out playing physical in the first period. A hard hit drew an early retaliatory penalty, and Alex Bechtold created a good chance on the powerplay. Moments after that penalty expired, Josh Peters stole the puck and tested MacEwan goaltender Chris Wray, but the game remained scoreless. A great save by Christian Mueller was followed up by a Griffins powerplay, and the guests were able to strike first to open a one goal lead. A flurry of pressure late in the frame produced another marker, and the Griffins had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.

The second period started no better for the home side, as a couple of dangerous chances were converted and the lead extended. Briercrest showed no signs of quitting, however, and continued to match MacEwan stride for stride and hit for hit. Micah Abbott deftly broke up a 3-on-2 rush, and Mark MacKinnon cleanly checked an attacker streaking into his zone. The intensity continued to ramp up as the teams spent several post-whistle scrums exchanging unpleasantries, and at the second intermission the visitors were up 4-0.

Some of the extra-curricular activity resulted in a lengthy 5-on-3 powerplay for the Griffins to start the third period, but this only served to showcase a textbook penalty kill for Briercrest as they held the visitors without a shot. Mark Langford was sharp in intercepting a threatening pass, and BJ Pirus's hand-eye coordination was the icing on the cake as he fought through a check to bat the puck out of the zone. Although Briercrest showed plenty of speed and skill in these final 20 minutes, they know to a man that they have to get back to playing in the disciplined and sportsmanlike manner that has been their deserved trademark.

There were some great chances both ways as the clock wound down, but the game ended with no further scoring for a 4-0 Griffin victory. Players of the game were Christian Mueller for Briercrest, and Chris Wray for MacEwan. Arlyn Semeschuk acquitted himself nicely in his home debut. Catch the rematch tomorrow at 2:00pm.

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