MacEwan hockey has officially christened the Downtown Community Arena with two victories after the women’s team took a 2-1 victory over SAIT Saturday night.
The prospect of a new arena had been highly anticipated for both Griffins hockey teams because it would solve the problem of distance between campus and the rink, forging a place for the teams within the MacEwan community.
After winning both of their home openers in the arena, the Griffins have showed that the arena is doing just that.
On Saturday, the women’s team defeated the SAIT Trojans with two goals in the second period.
“For the girls to come here and have a home, and have people in the Edmonton community support that, I think is massive for us,” said head coach Lindsay McAlpine.
It was apparent the shiny new digs gave the team a true home-field advantage, especially after a stale first period in which the Griffins showed some reservation in their style and aggressiveness on the ice.
“We had a rough first period,” McAlpine said. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.”
“(In the) season opener, obviously the girls are gonna have a little nerves,” forward Jordyn Reimer said.
Despite the timidness the team felt in the first period, the Griffins had no problem showing their proficiency in the second, scoring two consecutive goals, separated by only six seconds, and doubling their shots on goal by the end of the period.
The first goal was scored by Michelle Pochasky with just 27 seconds left on the clock, followed almost immediately by Jordyn Reimer, scoring another goal six seconds later with just 21 seconds left.
The two goals were accompanied by a fierce roar from the crowd and triumphant sirens.
“I read the play and just went in there,” Reimer described. “I was like, ‘I never get these, so I better make it good.’”
“Once we settled down in the second and got those two quick goals, it really swung the momentum for us,” McAlpine said.
Both the home players and their fans were in good spirits as the period came to a close.
The Trojans found some footing at the beginning of the third period and managed to get on the board six minutes into the frame during a SAIT powerplay, scored by the visiting Madison Fjellstrom.
Of course, the goal had inspired a new energy in the visiting team, but the confidence was soon cut short by the unfortunate injury of the Trojan’s starting goalie, Elisha Oswald.
Oswald laid on the ice and appeared unresponsive after a fall.
First responders later confirmed Oswald had suffered a spinal related injury.
Emergency medical services were contacted soon after the game had been halted. EMS arrived in an ambulance and assessed her condition on the ice, before carefully removing her from the rink on a spinal board and stretcher.
Oswald is expected to be all right, as she was observed to be in stable condition and conscious when being treated by responders.
“I hope she’s okay, of course,” Reimer said.
After a 45-minute delay, play resumed with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Trojans were desperate to put another puck in the net to tie things up and send the game into overtime. It was clear SAIT planned to keep pushing into the offensive zone and change the pace of the game.
It seemed the Griffins had their back against the wall, but despite the break in play and the aggressive energy resonating from the visitors, the Griffins kept their defence tight.
Goalie Sandy Heim locked SAIT out and the Griffins managed to secure the win, along with a full series sweep after defeating SAIT 2-1 in Calgary on Friday.
“To start out with a sweep gives us that confidence going forward,” McAlpine said. “We probably couldn’t have asked for a better opening weekend.”
The Griffins’ next match will be against the Olds Broncos, in Olds on Oct. 13.
Cover photo by Thai Sirikoone.