Graduating seniors Davies and Thudium making impacts at MacEwan after transferring from rivals

Defenceman Jordan Davies transferred to the Griffins after playing against them for three seasons with the NAIT Ooks (Joel Kingston photo).
Defenceman Jordan Davies transferred to the Griffins after playing against them for three seasons with the NAIT Ooks (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Imagine trading in your Calgary Flames or Vancouver Canucks jersey to play for the Edmonton Oilers.

Going from bitter rivals to teammates would certainly take some getting used to.

That's pretty much the same thing that happened to Jordan Davies and Chase Thudium when they traded in their NAIT Ooks and Red Deer College Kings jerseys, respectively, for the Maroon and White of the Griffins men's hockey team upon transferring to MacEwan in 2020.

"Honestly, it was super weird," said Davies, who played for the Ooks in three seasons against the Griffins, including in two Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference championship final series. "We just played against them for three years and had these big rivalries. But I knew a dozen of the guys coming in, so that definitely made the jump a little bit easier. It was great to play for two great programs in my hometown. 

"Although I have only been here for one full season (plus the COVID year), it's been a great experience at MacEwan and I can't thank my teammates and the coaching staff enough," he added.

Thudium remembers an intense 2018-19 ACAC best-of-three semifinal series against MacEwan where every game went to overtime – eventually won by the Griffins when Cam Gotaas scored in triple OT of Game 3.

"We joke around a lot with the guys who were a part of the last year because I always say whoever had home ice advantage was winning it," said Thudium. "It's fun to joke around with the guys like that, but it was also pretty cool because you know you're coming to a team that's had success in the past.

"Every year we're looking at them 'what are they doing so differently, why do we keep losing to them?' It was exciting to come here."

Limited to just a year playing for the Griffins due to the pandemic scuttling the 2020-21 season, both Davies and Thudium will be proud members of the program's alumni moving forward after they graduate from MacEwan this spring.

They will lead MacEwan (3-13-0-0) into weekend action against Saskatchewan (10-6-0-0) on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (2 p.m., both Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).

"Jordan's a guy we identified having played against him in the ACAC," said Griffins head coach Mike Ringrose of Davies, who was named to the ACAC second all-star team in 2018-19. "He's been able to come in and play a really prominent role on the powerplay. He's a veteran guy who makes good decisions and has the experience of winning. He's been able to come in and be a settling presence on our back end all year."

Davies has a goal and five points in 15 games so far this season.

"For me, personally, I had to change a few things in my game," he said of levelling up from ACAC to U SPORTS. "I've kind of taken strides in other areas of my game. You're forced to play on both sides of the puck. It felt like at ACAC, I was a bit more offensive, but you have to play at both ends at this level."

Thudium was also one of the Griffins' top opponents, compiling 46 goals and 104 points in 91 career ACAC games for RDC and making the ACAC all-star team twice (first team in 2018-19 and second team in 2019-20).

"He had a ton of success with that Red Deer program," said Ringrose. "He's a guy who was an impact offensive guy at the ACAC level. A lot like Jordan, we had an opportunity to add a veteran guy who had success to our group and so we jumped at it."

Red Deer College transfer Chase Thudium often jokes with his new Griffins teammates about the days they went against one another in the ACAC (Joel Kingston photo).

Thudium has three goals and eight points in 14 games for the Griffins so far this season.

"He's played on our powerplay in a lot of different spots, so he's a skilled guy who's able to fill a role for us there," said Ringrose. "He's very good from the top of the circles down in the offensive zone. He's got pretty quick hands around the net and a knack for scoring goals if he gets the opportunity."

The Sylvan Lake, Alta. product noted the adjustment period he's had to go through this season has been significant, though.

"It's a big jump," said Thudium. "Every team is really good and every team is deep. You don't know if you're going up against their first line or fourth line most nights because all their lines can play. I think that's a big difference. In the ACAC, a lot of team really only had two, maybe three lines that could really go. So that's a big adjustment."

The Griffins will be looking to snap a seven-game losing streak this weekend against a Huskies team that has just one win in their past four games. More importantly, though, with the playoffs all but officially out of reach for MacEwan, they're looking to finish strong so they have something to build off of in the future.

"Every year you get an opportunity to put your stamp on the program and hand it off," said Ringrose. "There are things about this season that we would definitely like to have back, but we've put those in the past.

"For us, it's just making sure we've got the right building blocks to hand off to the (2022-23) group," he continued. "It will include some guys in the room and some new faces. But we want to be able to hand that group, whoever they are next year, the opportunity to not start on the ground level and to build from the blocks we've put in place."

Both Davies and Thudium want to be a part of a proper torch-passing procedure, too.

"I believe in the coming years that MacEwan will be a (sought-after) place to play in U SPORTS," said Davies, who will graduate from MacEwan with a Commerce degree in Marketing. "If you look at MRU, they're in a similar spot as us a few years back and they're a pretty good team now.

"From my perspective playing against MacEwan, I always found them to be hard working, and a very structurally sound team. I think moving forward that's part of the identity we have to build at the U SPORTS level."

Thudium, who will be earning his Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and Management this spring, has tried to bring energy to the team, setting a strong example for the younger players.

"When things have been tough, you're still showing up and playing your best," he said. "That wears off on younger guys and hopefully they'll be able to pick up some of the good things I do, and hopefully not the bad things I do."