EDMONTON – A year after dramatically erasing a 12-year championship drought, the MacEwan Griffins celebrated their second-straight Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship with a 4-1 win over the NAIT Ooks on Sunday night.
It was like déjà vu as the No. 2-seeded Griffins again had too much for No. 1 NAIT when it mattered the most, beating the Ooks in three games for a second-consecutive year. Amazingly, the series followed the same script – the road team won all three contests – and it ended again on NAIT’s home ice.
The Griffins roster includes 21 AJHL alumni, in addition to Head Coach Michael Ringrose (Spruce Grove Saints). Michael Ringrose, who took the torch in his first ACAC coaching season from 2017 championship bench boss Bram Stephen, had no doubt his team would leave everything they had on the ice, win or lose.
Goaltender Marc-Olivier Daigle (Drayton Valley Thunder), who stopped 112 of 119 shots in the series, and came up gigantic under enormous pressure, was named ACAC Playoff MVP.
Ryan Baskerville (Grande Prairie Storm / Spruce Grove Saints) may have been the second-best player on the ice on Sunday. He scored the Griffins’ first two goals - the first coming in the opening frame when he kept it on a 2-on-1 and snapped it over NAIT goalie Nathan Park’s glove. The second came late in the middle frame when Brett Njaa (Camrose Kodiaks) made an inspired seam pass to Stefan Danielson (Camrose Kodiaks / Okotoks Oilers), whose shot tipped off Park and was sitting like a saucer in the blue paint. Baskerville charged in and stabbed it across the line.
Backup goaltender Christopher Wray (Drumheller Dragons), who factored into the Game 3 story last year by playing the final half of the third period and overtime, was on the bench this time. The win is no less sweet, though, as the decorated leader and all-time saves leader in the program graduates as a two-time champ.
“I think back to before the game,” said Ringrose. “My message to them was simple: enjoy the moment. You don’t’ get an opportunity to play in games like this very often and I said tomorrow morning when you wake up, you’re going to wake up and you’re going to either have won the game or lost the game.
“What you want is to be able to look in the mirror and say you had no regrets. Every single guy to a man tonight can wake up and do that tomorrow.”
With Files from Jefferson Hagen, Sports Information Officer, Griffins Athletics