EDMONTON — Garry Onyejelem is picking the perfect time to catch fire for the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
With their cross-town rival MacEwan Griffins in their rearview mirror for the final playoff spot, the Golden Bears needed to take care of business on home turf and Onyejelem came through in the clutch with two big goals in a 3-0 win over the Griffins Sunday afternoon at Foote Field.
Onyejelem’s two markers in the 26th and 38th minute put Alberta in control and then Lahai Mansary’s goal in the 77th minute put the game away for the Golden Bears.
Alberta improves to 4-5-2 and are just two points back of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies for second place in the Prairie division.
“We really improved today from yesterday and that was the biggest focus for us,” said Golden Bears head coach Martin Fenger-Andersen.
“We competed much harder and we allowed ourselves to get the ball and get possession and we had more guys arriving in the box to create a threat in front of their goal.”
Alberta was coming off a 0-0 tie against MacEwan on Saturday, and needed a big effort if they wanted to create some separation in the playoff race.
Onyejelem’s provided a big spark for Alberta in the last few weeks with four goals in his last three games.
“We didn’t have much offence yesterday and we knew we had to make a couple adjustments. Goals give teams energy and we really thrived after that goal (from Onyejelem),” said Fenger-Andersen.
“He’s got two each in his last two games, and he’s really stepping up and finding a way to make an impact in games.”
MacEwan didn’t create many good scoring opportunities in the first half, but finally got some good looks on Golden Bears first-year goalkeeper Liam Collens.
But, the rookie came up big when called upon, especially getting his fingertips on a free kick that was headed for the top left corner and knocked it out of bounds in the 69th minute.
Alberta fed off the big save from their keeper and just eight minutes later when Mansaray made a nice spin move in the corner and buried the shot past Griffin goalkeeper Seth Johnstone.
“I was pleased with our defensive approach today. It was nice to have our captain and leader Noah (Cunningham) back there. He’s an outstanding leader and you can really here him organize the team,” said Fenger-Andersen.
“We dipped with our energy a little bit and they came on to us a bit, but we made some substitutions and they brought the energy back up and we were able to get that important third goal.”
The Golden Bears travel to Calgary next weekend to face the first place Mount Royal Cougars on Saturday Oct.12 (2:30 p.m. MT).