The Ooks remain tied for first place with SAIT in the ACAC hockey standings after back-to-back triumphs over the MacEwan Griffins on the weekend. NAIT blanked the Griffins 4-0 on Friday night, before exploding offensively on Saturday with a 9-3 blowout. The weekend’s victories push the Ooks’ winning streak to 12 games, and their season point total to 45 with six games remaining.
On Friday night, the score remained even for the majority of the first two periods until left wing Tanner Dunkle lit the lamp with just over a minute left in the second. Power play goals by Joshua Lazowski and Scott Fellnermayr in the third solidified the Ooks’ lead. John Dunbar added a fourth goal with about a minute left in the final frame. Ken Cameron faced 38 shots in recording his second shutout of the year. He is currently the only goalie in the ACAC with a GAA below 2.0. The Ooks fired 29 shots on MacEwan.
“The best way to describe the game was patient,” said head coach Serge Lajoie. “Patient and structured.”
Saturday’s game was slightly less so. A total of 104 penalty minutes were handed out in the wild tilt. Ooks Joshua Lazowski, Richard Sabourin and Chris Lidjsman all received game misconducts. The trouble began seven minutes into the second period after John Dunbar gave the Ooks a 4-1 lead on an Eberle-esque goal from in tight. 37 penalty minutes were assessed, including a fighting major, before the next faceoff. The chippy play continued for the rest of the game as the Ooks began to pull away from the Griffins on the scoreboard. John Dunbar and Jason Wark both had two goals on the night. Kyle Birch got the start for the Ooks and faced 19 shots, while NAIT released 43 on MacEwan. By scoring his 50th point of the season, Dunbar becomes the first Ook player to hit the half century mark in 19 years. The NAIT record, set by Sid Cranston in 1985, is 67.
“Overall, it was a good effort. But it was a sloppy game,” said Lajoie.
Practice looked a bit different this week as the Ooks collaborated on the ice for two sessions with the U of A’s Golden Bears. The Ooks welcomed the Bears to their rink on Monday and practised at Clare Drake arena on Tuesday. The two teams worked on game situation play as well as special teams. The Golden Bears are having a stellar year of their own and currently sit at the top of the CIS rankings.
The Ooks will put their experience with the Bears to the test on Friday and Saturday against the 1-22-2 Portage Voyageurs, who will look to avenge a pair of early season losses against NAIT. The last home-and-home between the two teams saw the Ooks outscore their opponents 15-1. Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m. in Lac La Biche, while Saturday’s puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. here at NAIT.
By Connor O’Donovan