The Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's hockey finals between the University of Calgary Dinos and Grant MacEwan College Griffins are under way, with the series already showing signs of going the distance in grandiose fashion. The series didn't start as hoped for the Dinos, losing the first game 3-0 at Centennial Arena Feb. 29, but the girls roared back to tie the best-of-five series up at 1-1 with a 2-1 victory in Edmonton.
"We didn't come out as hard as we should have," commented captain Cait O'Hara after the series opening loss. "They're a really good team but we took them for granted."
Despite outshooting the Griffins 23-21 in game one, GMC held full control of the goals. They opened the scoring in the second period and held the 1-0 lead until late in the third when they added an insurance goal with only 4:02 to go, creating a tall mountain of adversity for the Dinos to climb. The lady hockeysaurs pulled their goalie and produced scoring chances in the dying minutes but were unable to break the perfect game of fourth-year Griffin netminder Kristen Sugiyama. GMC also added an empty-netter before regulation expired.
The style of play was different than the series against the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology Trojans last weekend, with the Griffins playing their specialty wide-open game focused on speed and skating. The Dinos showcased versatility, matching the Griffins stride-for-stride for most of the 60 minutes, but unfortunately succumbed to being caught playing their opponent's game and losing focus on what made the team quite successful through the beginning two rounds of the playoffs.
"We need to come out harder, get a better forecheck and play our game, which is hard work," acknowledged captain Cait O'Hara. "We need to get our heads in it."
Led by goals from O'Hara and fellow defender Kim Maier, and backstopped by 12 saves from goalie Katie Urness, the Dinos came back and tied the series up with a close 2-1 victory at Servus Credit Union Place Sat. The Dinos were very strong defensively, denying any chance of obtaining a 2-0 series shut-out stranglehold.
At 1-1, the series now becomes a best-of-three as it shifts back to Dinos' regular home ice, the Olympic Oval, for game three and potentially game five this upcoming weekend. Both teams have overcome odds up to this point in the season, so it can be expected to see them put everything on the line in this series.