It took four periods but once the first puck went in the net, the NAIT Ooks women’s hockey team got their mojo in the offensive zone. The three time defending champs won their home opener Saturday night 4-1 against the SAIT Trojans after getting shut out the previous evening in Calgary. Getting the season’s first win, along with honouring the accomplishments of last season, was a nice way to enter into Thanksgiving weekend. With the split, NAIT sits in a four-way tie for first place.
SAIT scores first
The series began with both teams feeling each other out in the opening frame, with NAIT goaltender Shelby Audet turning away eight shots. As the shot totals increased for both teams, SAIT broke the scoreless tie just over the halfway mark in the second. Despite NAIT’s efforts to tie, the Trojans held the Ooks at bay until an Erin Mclean goal gave SAIT insurance. Audet finished with 28 saves.
Saturday, the Ooks gave their fans plenty to cheer about with a power-play goal from Veronika Kuzelova late in the first period. SAIT tied the game a minute later, but NAIT provided the remainder of offence on the night. Breanna Frasca, the top scholastic achiever in ACAC women’s hockey last year, had a pair of goals, while Jordyn Tibbatts added another tally and an assist.
“We changed some things around in the lines, a lot of our players had better individual performances and a change in SAIT’s goaltending gave us a new look,” said Martin.
Audet picked up her first win of the season with 26 stops. Martin is impressed with the second year netminder’s start to the season.
“After not getting an opportunity last season with the team, I thought Shelby stepped up to challenge in her ACAC debut. She is working hard and we hope she continues to improve. She is a very determined goaltender.
” Now, the NAIT women have a weekend to recover and fine tune their game as they sit out with a bye. The squad’s next opponent is a new addition to the women’s hockey league, the Olds Broncos. Key to the Ooks growth is how they perform coming off of a week with no games.
We actually discussed that following Saturday’s game. The message is simple – don’t let our competition get ahead of us, use this time as an opportunity to get ahead of them,” said Martin. “We always need to be our own toughest competition in practice.”
Olds won its first ever league game at home against MacEwan and host the Ooks on Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.
The action swings back to NAIT on the 24th at 6 p.m. which also features the Ooks Hockey Alumni Association Alumni Cup Tournament earlier in the day as part of Alumni weekend.
Men remain undefeated
It took four games, but the NAIT Ooks were finally pushed in a competitive game this season. The boys swept their second straight weekend of the season, blowing out the Red Deer College Trojans 5-0 on Friday and winning more closely the following day, 5-3. The squad’s fourth win marks the first time NAIT has won by less than four goals this campaign and moves them atop the standings.
In Friday night’s affair, it took Jordan Wood just 13 seconds to give the Ooks the lead, with Charles Wells and John Dunbar picking up assists. Tyler French, Scott Fellnermayr and a two goal effort from Dante Borrelli rounded out the scoring. When the game reached the late stages, RDC’s frustration led to chippy play, something the Ooks have tried to steer clear from, but are struggling to do when theyblow teams out of the rink.
“When we get up on a team 5-0, sometimes that stuff happens,” said Wood. “But we like to play the game the right way and avoid that stuff.”
Ken Cameron made 25 saves for his first shutout of the season. Coach Gabinet noted that the second year goaltender is getting better each day.
“He’s been working hard at his game in practice and it’s showing early this season.” Saturday, the Kings struck first just five minutes into the game. However, the Ooks ended the frame with two goals in less-than-a-minute, thanks to Fellnermayr and Connor Hoekstra. The two squads then traded goals in the second, with Fellnermayr and Riley Sheen notching the Ooks tallies. Red Deer outshot the Ooks for the first time on the weekend in the third period, but NAIT held the lead long enough for Wells to pot an empty netter. Kyle Birch stopped 28 shots in his first start of the season.
“I thought Red Deer played a much stronger game in their home rink,” said Gabinet. “They pushed us hard and I thought they won a few more battles in the second period especially. I thought we responded well and worked hard to protect our one-goal advantage in the third.”
This weekend, the boy’s host their Calgarian rivals, the SAIT Trojans, as well as a plethora of alumni to watch on the weekend. Captains, star, grinders and heroes from several decades of Ooks hockey get recognized for their achievements and get to see what has grown from the ground they paved. Earlier in the day, there’s also the festivities of the Ooks Hockey Alumni Association Alumni Cup Tournament. This is the first league matchup between NAIT and SAIT squads since the ACAC Championship Series last spring.
“SAIT will be a good test this coming weekend,” said Gabinet. “We’ll be putting in a hard week of practice with lots of battle and compete drills to be prepared for them.”
The times for puck drop are 7 p.m. in Calgary on Friday and 6 p.m. at NAIT on Saturday.