EDMONTON – Women's indoor track student-athlete Ember Large is the MacEwan Athletics first star of the week her performance in leading the Griffins to their fourth-straight ACAC women's title.
Large won a full set of individual medals (gold, silver, bronze) at the ACAC Championship before helping the Griffins' women's 4x400 relay team strike silver and was named ACAC women's indoor track athlete of the year.
Other athletes recognized this week include second star Morgan Casson of women's hockey and third star Brett Njaa of men's hockey. Note that student-athletes from MacEwan's women's curling team, in action on Tuesday competing for a Canadian Colleges Athletic Association national title, will be honoured in next week's three stars.
This is the second time during the 2018-19 season that all three of these student-athletes have been honoured. Large was previously named second star on Jan. 29, Casson was second star on Feb. 26, and Njaa earned second star honours on Feb. 12.
1st star: Ember Large, women's indoor track
Edmonton, AB, second-year, Social Work
Large spent the first two weeks of March representing Canada in cross-country skiing at the FISU Winter Universiade in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and returned home from a 36-hour travel journey with enough time to sleep four hours before it was time to board a bus with the Griffins to Calgary for the ACAC Indoor Track Championship.
Understandably fatigued heading into the event, she showed what an incredible athlete she is by winning four medals and earning the most points of any female athlete at the meet.
With a gold in the women's 1000 metres, a silver in the 1500, a bronze in the 600 and another silver as a member of MacEwan's 4x400m relay team, Large was named the ACAC Female Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
Her performance was a major reason why the Griffins won their fourth-straight ACAC women's team championship (and fifth of the last six years).
2nd star: Morgan Casson, F, women's hockey
Edmonton, AB, fourth-year, Science
With the Griffins up 2-0 in the best-of-five ACAC final series, they looked to close it out in Game 3 at NAIT Arena last Thursday night.
Morgan Casson was a huge reason why they did, as the Griffins earned a sweep of the Ooks with a 3-2 overtime victory for their third-straight ACAC Championship.
Casson opened the scoring with a first-period wraparound before dramatically netting the golden goal in OT, ripping a shot from the slot under the bar to kick off a wild MacEwan celebration.
It's the second time in the past three years that Casson has scored the series-clinching goal, also tallying the OT winner in the decisive game over the SAIT Trojans that sealed MacEwan's first championship in their run (2017).
Morgan Casson gets emotional as she passes a line of teammates on the way to receiving player of the game honours for her two-goal performance in Game 3 of the ACAC final at NAIT Arena last Thursday (Len Joudrey photo).
3rd star: Brett Njaa, F, men's hockey
Birch Hills, SK, fourth-year, Commerce
The 2018 ACAC MVP rose to the occasion in a big way for the Griffins during a tough semifinal against Red Deer College, scoring three goals in a 2-1 MacEwan series victory.
In Game 1, the Griffins got off to a slow start and were trailing 3-0 in the first period. Njaa was a big reason why MacEwan came back to win 4-3 in double overtime, scoring the team's second and third goals of the contest.
He channeled his inner Bobby Orr for the game-tying tally with 41 seconds left, cutting around a defender and deking wide on goalie Troy Trombley, scoring while flying through the air.
Njaa would score another important goal in Game 3 of the series that again sapped the Kings' momentum. With MacEwan trailing 1-0 early in the first period, he chopped a rebound with one hand over Trombley's pad to tie it up and give the Griffins the momentum they would need as they eventually won 3-2 in OT to win the series.
Brett Njaa, right, celebrates with teammate Ryan Baskerville after scoring one of the most memorable goals of his career - the game-tying tally in Game 1 that set the table for the Griffins to beat Red Deer College in the ACAC semifinal (Matthew Jacula photo).