Three Stars: Brandt, Mwasalla, Gajic earn honours

Riley Brandt recorded three goals and an assist in MacEwan's weekend sweep over Regina (Arthur Images).
Riley Brandt recorded three goals and an assist in MacEwan's weekend sweep over Regina (Arthur Images).

MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Men's hockey student-athlete Riley Brandt is the MacEwan Athletics' first star of the week after his performance in leading the Griffins to a sweep on their inaugural Canada West weekend.

Brandt scored three goals and added an assist as the Griffins posted 4-3 and 5-2 wins over the Regina Cougars on Friday and Saturday.

Other athletes recognized this week include second star Grace Mwasalla of the women's soccer team and third star Stefan Gajic of the men's soccer team.

It's the first honour of the season for all three student-athletes.

1st STAR: Riley Brandt, F, men's hockey

Trail, BC, third-year, Arts

In a performance that netted him the first Canada West men's hockey player of the week award of the 2021-22 season, Brandt had four points in two games as the Griffins swept the Regina Cougars on the weekend.

The 5-foot-7 forward led the Griffins to their first-ever Canada West win on Friday – a 4-3 triumph – when he assisted on the game's opening goal by Colin Schmidt and scored their second of the contest.

On Saturday, Brandt opened the scoring and then added another one in the third period – both coming on the powerplay – as the Griffins scored a 5-2 victory.

Brandt is not only tied for the Canada West scoring lead after the opening weekend, he's tied for the second-most shots after putting nine on net in the two-game series.

Grace Mwasalla matched the program's rookie record for most goals in a Canada West game when she scored twice in Saturday's 8-0 win over Lethbridge (Jefferson Hagen photo).

2nd STAR: Grace Mwasalla, F/M, women's soccer

Chatham, ON, first-year, Arts

If this is the future, we're seeing something special in the present from rookie Grace Mwasalla, too.

The forward/midfielder from Chatham, Ont., by way of the Calgary Blizzard program has been a difference-maker every time out for the Griffins in this, her rookie university season.

On Saturday, she really stood out on the scoresheet, though, scoring twice in just one half of work after coming in as a half-time sub in an 8-0 romp over the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

That output matched the most by a rookie in the program's Canada West history – a record originally set by Nicole Palladino during the 2014 season, matched by Isabelle Dobbin in 2015 and then matched again by three different Griffins on Saturday: Mwasalla, Nikki Brodeur and Alyx Henderson.

Mwasalla also played a key role in one half of work in Sunday's 4-0 win in the rematch, getting three shots on goal (and five total for the weekend).

She also did yeoman's work on the defensive side of the ball in a holding midfielder position.

Mwasalla will lead the Griffins (9-1-0) into their final two-game series of the regular season this weekend when they visit Calgary (8-1-1) on Friday and Saturday (both 12 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op) with first place in the Central Division on the line.

Stefan Gajic came up big against Lethbridge in the final home regular season weekend of his career (Tia Schram photo).

3rd STAR: Stefan Gajic, M, men's soccer

Sherwood Park, AB, third-year, Commerce

In the final home regular season weekend of his Griffins soccer career, graduating senior Gajic was a huge reason why the team earned a win and a tie vs. the Lethbridge Pronghorns.

Gajic was named MacEwan's MVP in both of the contests as he drove play for the team and played a key defensive role from his midfield position.

In Saturday's 5-1 win, he was one of four Griffins with a goal and an assist, while also adding two second assists (although not awarded were key in setting up two other MacEwan goals).

In Sunday's 2-2 draw, Gajic had two shots on net (finishing the weekend with six total) and was crucial in the play's build-up through midfield.

Gajic will lead the Griffins (2-4-2) into their final weekend series of the regular season – at Calgary (4-0-4) on Saturday and Sunday (both 2:15 p.m., Canada West TV presented by Co-op) – as the team chases the first Canada West playoff spot in program history. They will need to win at least one of the games and get some help from cross-town rival Alberta in their matches against Saskatchewan.