CALGARY, ALTA., (Oct. 19, 2018) — Payton Lee was a busy man Friday night.
The second-year netminder from Cranbrook, BC turned aside 45 shots, as his Trojans men’s hockey team defeated the two-time defending Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) champion MacEwan Griffins 2-1 in overtime in their game played at SAIT’s Campus Centre.
“I thought this was a character-building win for us,” said Lee, a Power and Process Operations student. “They had a lot of shots, but I thought the guys did a good job of keeping them to the outside and letting me see them.”
SAIT improves to 5-0 on the season, while the Griffins fall to 3-1-1.
Going into the game, the Trojans and Griffins were two of the highest scoring teams in the league – SAIT coming in with 24 goals in four games, the Griffins with 30.
However, on this night, goals would be at a premium as Lee and his counterpart, Marc-Olivier Daigle combined for 76 saves.
“They have scored a bunch, and we have been putting up some pretty big numbers, but I knew they were strong defensively and have a good goalie,” stated Lee. “Our guys can bear down defensively as well, so I wasn’t surprised that tonight was low-scoring and tight.”
In the game, it would be the Trojans who would strike first when Owen LaClare (2nd year, Edam, Sask., Power and Process Operations) continued his offensive tear by scoring his third goal (and 13th point) of the season in the opening period.
Thirty-seven minutes of hockey passed until the Griffins finally solved Lee. Cam Gotaas finished off a beautiful passing play by teammates Brett Njaa and Garan Magnes to bring the teams even with just seven minutes remaining in the game.
In the ensuing overtime period of four-on-four play, Lee again had to come up big when the Griffins put together back-to-back 2-on-1’s. When the second one was broken up, the puck bounced out of the Trojans zone.
Matt Houston (2nd year, Rosetown, Sask., Business Administration) dove to knock the puck to a breaking Zach McNeill (2nd year, Calgary, Business Administration), who then skated the length of the ice and made no mistake, beating Daigle along the ice, between the pads, with 1:07 left to win the game.
In a Calgary Flames recent overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche, goalie David Rittich celebrated early by raising his hands when Johnny Gaudreau was sent in on a breakaway that he eventually scored on. Lee was asked why he did not mimic the Flames netminder on this night.
“Oh no, no,” Lee laughed. “I had to make sure McNeill put that one in first.”
The teams meet again tomorrow night in Edmonton at 6pm, and Lee said his team will be looking to capitalize on the good feelings that came from Friday’s win.
“On the bus tomorrow everyone will be focused, but the mood will be a lot lighter than it would have been had we lost tonight,” he explained. “That energy is something we need to take in to the game in their rink.”