Student Login

Ooks and Griffins close the semester in a historic fashion

By Admin User on December 10, 2018

On December 1st, 2018 in Falun, Alberta the NAIT Ooks women’s hockey team faced-off against the rival MacEwan Griffins women’s hockey team for the fourth time this season. This time though, was unlike any other time because it was the first ever outdoor ACAC hockey game.

MacEwan standing for the national anthem.

The rink is basically in the middle of a forest, making for some pretty stunning scenery.

The stakes were high as well, with first place on the line. In the end, the Ooks took down the Griffins 1-0 in double-overtime after a goal from Ook forward Megan Leblanc. For many though, this event was about more than the game. Jenna Thompson, a fourth-year defenceman from Winnipeg, realized the impact this game could have on women’s hockey as a whole. “It was neat to see all the little girls out here cheering and having fun, it was all just really cool,” and even though they lost, Thompson said that she’d love to do it again.

Verca Kuzelova, a forward from the Czech Republic gets her taste of Canadian outdoor hockey.

Justine Cantley, a forward from the Ooks from 2008-2010 was out to watch the game and help drop the puck in the pre-game ceremonies. “This rink is amazing and it’s nice to be out here and be a part of it for sure,” said Cantley.

Ooks captain Carlin Boey keeping the players loose before the game.

While the two teams are only from colleges a few bus stops apart, the game was over an hour drive south for either team. With the game being close to Wetaskiwin, Dan Sillito, a  minor hockey coach from Wetaskiwin saw the chance to bring his team to Falun to help support the girls and take in a hockey experience. “They can take in the hard work and see how a competitive team plays,” said Sillito.

The game was something that Ooks Head Coach Stef Thomson said the players were looking forward to for a long time, “as soon as we pulled up on the bus, you could hear them cheering, eyes went really wide so it was kinda like the little kids coming out of them which was really cool to see,” said Thomson.

While it was snowy during the game, the warmth in the days leading up to it forced many volunteers to work at least 10 hours a day for over a week to build the ice. To build it, they tarped the ice during the day to keep it insulated from the sun, then making laps with the Zamboni for hours at night. Ken Adair, a volunteer that helped build and maintain the rink, described it as “a full-time job.” “The whole week has been pretty much down here, either putting down tarps or arranging equipment,” said Adair.

Some of the rink crew in Falun getting ready to maintain the ice.

For the rink crew, hosting and outdoor game in Falun isn’t anything new as they hosted the Oilers and Flames alumni game.

The ice was playing pretty well all night, but while the snow made for a beautiful northern atmosphere, it also made for a tough scoring night as the snow piled up on the ice. Ooks forward Megan LeBlanc was able to see through the snow and score the game-winning goal after a game’s worth of struggles.  “It was very challenging, it was good for about 30 seconds after the Zamboni was done and then it got pretty hard to shoot, you couldn’t really get it in there because there was so much snow,” said LeBlanc. LeBlanc later took home the NAIT and ACAC player of the week honours for her historic goal with 7.9 seconds left in Overtime.

Griffins forward Jayme Doyle watching the Ooks celebrate the historic win.

The snow also caused multiple breaks in the action as halfway through every period there was a scrape of the ice to try and clear the way for the players.

While the benches and penalty boxes were heated, the fans had to brave the cold.

Some fans made the bold choice to not wear toques.

The players and coaches weren’t the only ones who had to prepare. Donna Cote, a mother of Ooks forward Delaney Martin made the drive out to the game and was ready to take on the conditions. “I’m staying warm, I got layer’s on layer’s upon layer’s so I’m all good,” said Cote.

If the playing surface didn’t make the game unique enough, both teams would stay on the benches rather than have the traditional locker room meetings. This is because the locker room wasn’t traditional at all, it was only separated by a curtain.

Goaltender Natalie Bender was into the spirit of the game, sporting a Griffin’s toque on the bench.

While injured Griffins defenceman Tessa Mitchell couldn’t participate in the game, she was proud to see her girls play from the bleachers, “it kinda hurts [to not play], but it’s still good to be here with the girls, it’s awesome and they look like they’re having a lot of fun,” said Mitchell.

Both teams were all smiles before the game.

For Ooks captain Carlin Boey who has been on the team for six years, but is in her fifth year of eligibility, this game holds a special place in her heart. “We haven’t done this before and it’s kinda cool that it happened in my last year. I’ve only got ten regular season games left now going into playoffs so it’s cool to experience it with all the girls I’ve been kicking it with for the last couple years and for the new girls to come in and have this as their first rookie year experience, it’s just so awesome I can’t even explain it.”

For both teams, it’ll be over a month long break until they resume play. Coming off the “I think we’re gonna have that time at home with Christmas break after exams are done to unwind and spend time away from the rink. But once we get back I think we’ll still be riding that high [from the game]. I think a lot of people didn’t expect us to be first place at the break,” said Boey.

Griffins forward Dominique Scheurer getting ready for the face-off.

All of the proceeds for this event will go to the PLACE Society in Falun as they aim to build a multi-use facility in the area.



Follow Us!

Like Us On Facebook!