Women's Ice Hockey

Griffins kick off title defence season on Oct. 6 against Red Deer

Griffins Courtney Zajac, left, Sydney Thomlison and Shanya Shwetz celebrate the 2016-17 ACAC women's hockey championship last March. On Oct. 6, before their 2017-18 home opener, MacEwan University will hold a special ceremony honouring their accomplishment (Nick Kuiper photo).
Griffins Courtney Zajac, left, Sydney Thomlison and Shanya Shwetz celebrate the 2016-17 ACAC women's hockey championship last March. On Oct. 6, before their 2017-18 home opener, MacEwan University will hold a special ceremony honouring their accomplishment (Nick Kuiper photo).

MacEwan Athletics

Mark the Oct. 6-7 weekend on your calendars, Griffins hockey fans.

Championship banner celebration weekend at the Downtown Community Arena will kick off the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference title defence campaign for MacEwan University's puck squads.

Special pre-game ceremonies are planned for both Oct. 6 when the Griffins women's team opens the 2017-18 season against Red Deer (7 p.m.) and Oct. 7 when the men host SAIT in their home opener (6 p.m.).

It's the first time in MacEwan's history that both hockey teams have held ACAC championships at the same time.

The Griffins women's squad will actually open the 2017-18 campaign on the road with a visit to Red Deer on Oct. 5. They eliminated the Queens during an epic first round playoff match in 2016-17 that needed 14 periods to decide the best-of-three series.

The MacEwan men will also open the season on the road as they visit SAIT on Oct. 6. The Griffins eliminated the Trojans in the ACAC men's semifinals last season, so there's plenty of recent history between the teams.

Shortly after that weekend, the men will get a championship rematch against cross-town rival NAIT when they visit the Ooks on Oct. 20 and welcome them to the DCA on Oct. 21 (6 p.m.). The Griffins beat the Ooks 4-3 in overtime in the third-and-deciding game of the ACAC championship series last March for their first title since 2004.

The MacEwan women will get their rematch weekend on Nov. 3-4 when they host the SAIT Trojans on the Friday (7 p.m.) before travelling to Calgary on Saturday (7 p.m.). The Griffins won their first championship since 2008 in SAIT Arena last March, claiming the best-of-five series 3-1 with a 3-2 overtime win.

The ACAC women's table will again include five teams – MacEwan, NAIT, Red Deer, Olds and SAIT – with the top four making the playoffs. The Griffins will close out the 2017-18 regular season with a home and home against SAIT – Feb. 16-17.

The ACAC men's lineup will again include eight teams – MacEwan, NAIT, Concordia, SAIT, Briercrest, Red Deer, UAlberta-Augustana and Portage, but the Voyageurs will now play their home games out of the Cold Lake Energy Centre, instead of their previous venue in Lac La Biche. The top six squads will make the playoffs, with the top two seeds earning first-round byes.

During the 2017-18 season, the MacEwan men's team will visit their old home for one night as they will be the road team in a match against cross-town rival Concordia on Nov. 10 at the Bill Hunter Arena (8:15 p.m.). The Griffins will host Briercrest for a two-game set to close out the 2017-18 regular season on Feb. 23-24.

On a yet-to-be determined date during the 2017-18 season, the Griffins will be recognizing the philanthropy of Bill Comrie during a pre-game ceremony. This will be the first season that the Bill Comrie Hockey Scholarships will be awarded to Griffins athletes, following a generous $1.5 million donation from the Edmonton businessman in 2015. The endowment fund will allow for 12 annual scholarships of $5,000 each for Griffins hockey players.