CALGARY, ALTA, (March 10, 2019) - Eric Krienke. Difference maker.
Krienke scored three goals, including the game-winner with seconds left in overtime to beat the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings 4-3 in the deciding Game 3 of their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) quarter-final series played in Camrose, Alta.
"Honestly, I kind of blacked out there for a little bit," explained Krienke, who also scored the double overtime winner in his team's 4-3 series tying win Friday night at SAIT. "I got it where I like to shoot it from, and their goalie gave me a little bit of an opening and I took it."
SAIT, the fifth seed, wins the series 2-1, avenging last year's 2-0 quarter-final series loss to the Vikings. The Trojans dropped Game 1 of the series Thursday night in Camrose, 2-1. After falling behind, the Trojans rallied to take the next two to move on and end the Vikings season.
"We just kept fighting," said Trojans head coach Brent Devost. "This is a hell of a hockey club. . . Give Augustana credit, they made us earn it. When you look back on it, you want to earn your wins. Maybe not this close, but you want to earn them."
The road doesn't get any easier for SAIT, as they advance to the semifinal where they will meet the first place NAIT Ooks in another best-of-three series. NAIT had a bye this first round thanks to them placing atop the ACAC standings.
"We have to be road warriors now; any series we play in going forward, we will be the road team," Devost stated. "This win tonight has acted like a springboard for us. NAIT is a good hockey team, but we'll be ready for them."
SAIT went 1-3 in their season series with the Ooks.
"I thought we played them well in the first half of the year, and then we were banged up in the second half," Krienke said. "We should match up well with them."
The first period started much like it did Friday night - with the Trojans getting a goal early on. Two nights ago, it was Colton McCarthy 73 seconds in. Sunday, it was Krienke 76 seconds in, finishing off a nice 2-on-1 pass from Joren Patenaude.
Like Games 1 and 2, the final contest of the series saw the teams combine for three goals in the second period. However, this time, the Trojans were the ones who outscored the Vikings 2-1.
First, McCarthy put SAIT ahead just 69 seconds into the period on a one-timer that hit the far post and went in.
Minutes later, Krienke scored his second of the game on a lazy wrist shot that Vikings goalie Curtis Skip would have liked to have back.
Augustana finally got on the board later in the period on the power play when SAIT goalie Payton Lee stopped the initial two shots, but not the third, which was banged by Lukas Biensch in cut the lead to 3-1.
The Vikings made things really interesting in the final period, getting a pair of goals from Travis Mayan to tie the game less than three minutes apart, but Krienke said his team did not panic.
"There were a couple of bad plays by myself - I didn't get the puck out, so I will take the blame on the one," he said. "But, we didn't miss a beat. We knew if we kept going and stuck to the systems, we would get the result that we wanted."
In overtime, both teams were given power play opportunities late in the 10-minute period. After SAIT killed theirs off, they had the power play for the remainder of the frame as the Vikings were given four minutes for butt-ending.
Krienke made them pay with 46 seconds left, going top corner on Skip to end the game and the series.
"He's dangerous whenever he has the puck," Devost said of Krienke. "I thought he made a commitment defensively, and that's big for him. He ended up getting rewarded for it. When it comes down to it, he's the guy you want with the puck on his stick."
Red Deer College and MacEwan University will meet in the ACAC's other semifinal. MacEwan got there via a bye for finishing the regular season in second place. Red Deer punched their ticket by sweeping the Concordia University of Edmonton 2-0 in their quarter-final series.