The mens Ooks hockey team has seen another strong season come to a disappointing close after losing 4-1 in a do-or-die Game 3 final playoff to the MacEwan Griffins last Sunday in the ACAC championships. Griffins goaltender Marc-Olivier Daigle was voted playoff MVP for his stellar play.

In Game 1 on Friday night at NAIT, the Ooks were dominated by the Griffins, losing 7-3. The second period saw the Griffins outscore the Ooks 4-1, with Ooks goaltender Nathan Park getting pulled. This put the Ooks in a must-win position for Game 2 of the three-game series.

The Ooks were able to bounce back in the second game, winning 3-2 at MacEwan and forcing a decisive Game 3. The Ooks controlled the second period in that contest, scoring three to make the game 3-0 heading into the third. The Griffins stormed back in the third, scoring two goals before the halfway mark of the third period, but it wasn’t enough as the Ooks held strong to close the game. Park was able to bounce back in this game, stopping 34 of 36 shots.

In Game 3 at NAIT, both teams seemed to struggle moving the puck early on and weren’t able to apply much sustained pressure, but MacEwan forward Ryan Baskerville was able to put the first goal on the board with just over eight minutes left in the first. Four minutes into the second period, Ooks forward Jordan Davies was able to tie the game up at one. The Ooks and Griffins played a tight game until near the end of the second period, when Baskerville was able to score once again as time wound down in the frame. The Griffins held a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. With 12 minutes remaining, the Ooks grew hungry for the tying goal but Jake Mykitiuk was called for high-sticking, which put the momentum back into MacEwan’s hands. On the ensuing power play, forward Brett Smith scored to make it 3-1 for the Griffins. Once the game finally seemed to be in the Griffins hands, defenceman Stefan Danielson took a slashing penalty to put the Ooks on the power play with 10 minutes left. This power play however, was short lived, as Ooks forward Thomas Foster was called for boarding only nine seconds into the crucial man advantage. During the four-onfour, the Ooks were able to pressure Mac- Ewan, but any time it looked like the Ooks were about to score, Griffins’ goaltender Marc-Olivier Daigle was able to make a key save, crushing any momentum the Ooks had developed.

With the Ooks goalie pulled, Griffins forward Ryan Benn was able to seal the championship for his team, scoring his second goal of the series and making it a 4-1 victory. Daigle was able to stop all but one of the Ooks’ 40 shots en route to being named playoff MVP, following his successful season where he was named the ACAC’s top goaltender.

The series played out a similar narrative to last year’s ACAC championship, with the away team winning all three games, with the Griffins ultimate coming out on top in each year.

– Conner Toffan, Sports Co-Editor