Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – In savouring what will be his final year playing hockey, MacEwan Griffins forward Ryan Baskerville is saving his best for last.
With four goals and 14 points in the first 10 games of his fifth university campaign, Baskerville currently leads the Griffins in scoring and sits third in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
The stretch comes just a month after being the only member the NAIT-MacEwan All-Star team to score against the Edmonton Oilers Rookies in their Sept. 11 match at Rogers Place. That tap-in off a great pass from NAIT's Jake Mykitiuk against Oilers prospect Olivier Rodrigue will be one to tell his grandkids about some day.
"It was huge," he said. "It was nice for my parents. They were there and, being on the bench after, looking up and seeing my face on the big screen was pretty cool. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life and be able to tell my kids about someday."
That goal kicked off a wave of confidence for Baskerville that grew into a fine fall of filling nets around the ACAC.
"He came into his final year with a right attitude and approach," said MacEwan head coach Michael Ringrose. "He's enjoying himself. He's having a good time on the ice and off.
"He seems to have found some chemistry with Brett Smythe and is getting to the front of the net," he continued. "The scoring's coming for him this year. He was a little bit snake-bitten last year. He probably should have had more points or more success than he got. Maybe the balance is tipping a little bit and he's picking up points early in the season."
Baskerville will lead the Griffins into a weekend home-and-home series against the cross-town rival Concordia Thunder (Friday, 7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena and Saturday, 7 p.m., Bill Hunter Arena).
It's not that he hasn't been an offensive force for the Griffins in previous games. One only needs to harken back to his dominant two-goal night in MacEwan's 4-1 win over NAIT last March to help secure MacEwan's second-straight ACAC Championship.
But that came when he was playing more of a defensive shutdown role on a line with now graduated senior Ryan Benn and Nolan Yaremchuk. This season, Baskerville has been getting prime offensive minutes with a missive of putting the puck in the net.
"We're expected to score, and we have been so far, which is good," said Baskerville, who started the season playing with Yaremchuk and Cam Gotaas, but has been finding great chemistry with Smythe and rookie Garan Magnes of late.
The 6-foot-3 Edmonton product knows his role on that line (and on the powerplay) – get to the net and cause havoc.
"Ryan does not play a perimeter game," said Ringrose. "He gets to the net. He's willing to play in the hard areas. Certainly, from a coaching perspective, he does the little things you need to do to have offensive success.
"He's an older guy who's a bigger body and he's figured out how to use that size, especially in tight in the offensive zone. Credit to him for the successes he's had early on this year."
Added Baskerville: "I'm a big guy, so I don't really have any excuse not to get to the front of the net. Pucks end up there, so if you want to score some greasy goals, that's where you have to be. In our league, goalies are good enough that perimeter shots aren't going to go in, so you've got to get to the hard areas to find the back of the net."
With plans to hang up his skates at the end of the season and transition into a career in accounting, the Commerce major is savouring every moment with the Griffins.
"Knowing this will be my last year of hockey, I'm kind of excited to start the next part of my life," Baskerville said. "It's been a lot of fun. I think I'm really enjoying it right now. It's nice because next fall I know I'll be in an office behind a computer instead of playing hockey every day."
An assistant captain on the ice, Baskerville's leadership also extends off of it. This year, he's taken the torch from graduated men's hockey player Chris Wray and is serving as the president of the MacEwan Student Athletes Council.
"I really want to leave a lasting impression on Athletics and the school, so when I had the opportunity, I wanted to take what Chris has built and push it forward because he did an excellent job," he said. "Council wouldn't be what it is today without him. I just wanted to take over for him and make sure things go in the right direction.
"It's going well. I'm enjoying it."
Add it to the many memories that Baskerville will be able to look back on with pride after his time as a Griffin comes to an end.
"Five years ago, if I could have said I'd have two championships going into my last year, I would have said 'you're crazy.' It would be great to win again and that's obviously what we're playing for, but I can leave hockey with a good taste in my mouth," he said.