Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON – Who can forget Carley Jewell's biggest contribution to the MacEwan Griffins' win in the championship final last season?
Certainly, this weekend's opponent won't.
Jewell scored the game-tying goal in Game 4 at SAIT and the Griffins eventually beat the Trojans in overtime to claim their first ACAC championship since 2008.
Friday marks the first meeting since that fateful March 11 contest between the 2017 ACAC final combatants. MacEwan (5-0-1) will welcome SAIT (1-4-1) for a 7 p.m. contest at the Downtown Community Arena. The teams will then play in Calgary on Saturday (7 p.m., SAIT Arena).
"I think it's good to come into the season knowing we beat them last year, but our league's so close that anyone can win on any given night," said Jewell. "We need to come in with the mentality that 'yes we did win last year' but to not take them lightly."
Jewell, a third-year defenceman from Winnipeg, is off to a great start for the Griffins again this season, leading them in goals with three in the first six games.
"Jewell is a very gifted offensive defenceman," said head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "That's what we've kind of expected out of her and now in her third year it's kind of coming to fruition. She's a very confident player who loves to play with the puck. She loves to jump up into the rush and we do encourage our D to join the attack. She definitely buys into that."
In the middle of a Science degree at MacEwan with the goal of one day becoming an anesthesiologist – a discipline that requires great precision – Jewell brings that to the ice, as well.
"She's a good shooter from the point. She's able to find lanes," said McAlpine. "She's been a player who's scored some really big goals for us. She's a player that does come up and rise in those big moments."
Jewell grew up in Winnipeg playing boys hockey until age 12. She switched to girls hockey not because body-checking was being introduced, but because her friends were doing it. She's confident she could have handled the physical play, something that becomes apparent when you watch her protect the pucks and win board battles in her own zone.
If the ACAC women's game had hitting, she'd be one of the top beneficiaries.
"I think that has to do with my size," said Jewell. "I'm one of our bigger defencemen, so that helps."
Added McAlpine: "She is focusing on that defensive side. She is a big body, she has a presence in front of the net. She's hard to play against. So yeah, she kind of adds depth to both sides of the rink for us."
SAIT comes into the weekend off another slow start with just one win through their first six games. The Trojans also have a new head coach, hiring Kelsey Leifson after Terry Larson hung up his whistle after nine seasons with team.
But they have plenty of returning players who remember the sting of losing to MacEwan in the 2017 final. McAlpine figures that's not the only thing driving the Trojans going into this weekend, though.
"Obviously there was a coaching change at SAIT, which kind of changes that dynamic a bit," said McAlpine. "SAIT's kind of off to a rough start. They've been struggling. I'm not sure why. They did this last year, too, and kind of turned it up in the second half. So, I think they're actually going to be fighting more for their own pride and their own need to turn things around.
"I think any time a team plays us this year it's 'OK, we've got to turn our game up, we're playing the reigning champs.' That's kind of the focus. We get everybody's best hockey."