Graduating senior Magee put in the work to reach another level in his final season

Brett Magee skates up ice against the Saskatchewan Huskies during a game last weekend. He'll be one of three graduating seniors celebrated by the Griffins prior to Saturday's game vs. Alberta (Joel Kingston photo).
Brett Magee skates up ice against the Saskatchewan Huskies during a game last weekend. He'll be one of three graduating seniors celebrated by the Griffins prior to Saturday's game vs. Alberta (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Realizing the need to take his game to another level ahead of the MacEwan Griffins' inaugural Canada West men's hockey season, Brett Magee joined a group of elite players training under Syracuse Crunch general manager Stacy Roest in Vernon, B.C. last summer.

Among them: Carter Rowney, a Stanley Cup champion with Pittsburgh in 2017, and current forward with the Detroit Red Wings.

Seeing how good Rowney is was a true eye-opener for Magee.

"Carter Rowney is a fourth-liner in the NHL and is coming back from a knee injury, but I was so impressed with what he's like as a player – his conditioning level, his ability to skate," said the MacEwan blueliner. "We also had various other AHL, ECHL players and college players from the States skating with us. It was a great group to train with.

"It was eye-opening, for sure, just to see the level it takes to even be a fourth-liner in the NHL. It was really impressive. I hadn't actually trained with anyone of that calibre yet."

The group also used The Training House for off-ice workouts and Magee saw the commitment it takes to reach the next level.

"I think it helped me tremendously," said Magee. "Just being around exceptional athletes really pushes you and just learning a few things from certain guys, being able to watch them and how they work on a day-to-day basis. It was a good investment in myself, for sure."

Magee has certainly reached a different level with his play this season for the Griffins and will lead them into their final regular season home game of 2021-22 on Saturday vs. cross-town rival Alberta (5 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).

He will be one of three graduating seniors feted in a pre-game ceremony, joining Jordan Davies and Chase Thudium.

After three seasons of ACAC hockey – two for MacEwan after transferring from NAIT in 2018 in time to be part of the 2019 Championship team – Magee has logged key minutes on the Griffins' blueline in their first Canada West campaign.

"He put in the work," said head coach Mike Ringrose. "That's what you need to do. At this level, it's not OK to just kind of show up and work yourself into shape.

"If you want to be successful at the Canada West level, you need to be dedicated to your craft. You need to be a true pro and that means working at your game, whether it's on the ice or at the gym. He's certainly a guy that recognized that and put in the work. As a result, he was able to take a step up from where he was playing in the ACAC."

That in, and of itself, gave Magee a leadership role on the Griffins this season, if only serving as a strong example for younger players of how hard work can prove transformational.

Brett Magee has logged key minutes on MacEwan's blueline in the Griffins' inaugural Canada West campaign (Joel Kingston photo).

"Brett's contributions go past what he brings on the ice," noted Ringrose. "Especially in his last few years here, he's really taken a leadership role with our group.

"He's a fierce competitor and (against) our program early in his career with NAIT, and has transitioned to a valued teammate as he's progressed through his post-secondary. Really happy with what he's been able to bring to the program during his time here. He's definitely leaving it in a better spot than he found it."

Magee noted what he'd like to leave to the program is to keep a positive mindset, too, something which hasn't been easy during the team's current nine-game losing streak.

"There's certainly tons of other guys who put in the work," he explained. "I also want to create a good, fun work environment for the guys, too. Certainly as a student-athlete, there's a big time commitment from the hockey and school aspect. Sometimes it can be a bit of a grind.

"My focus this year is just bringing good positive energy to the rink every day. I think that's been especially tough for this group this year because we haven't gotten the results we've necessarily wanted.

"That's what I want for the group moving forward is to be a hard-working team and tight-knit group, but also just having a good, fun atmosphere. It should be the best part of their day – coming to the rink and putting in the work."

Magee is leaving MacEwan with an Accounting degree, but doesn't have plans to put that to use just yet. He plans to reach out to an agent after the season ends with designs on playing professionally somewhere, perhaps even reuniting with his cousin Brandon Magee, who currently plays in the EIHL in the U.K. with the Fife Flyers.

"I'd love to have the opportunity to play with him," he said. "We grew up playing together on the outdoor rink and I think that would be pretty special. I've never had the opportunity to play with him.

"I've talked to him a little bit, but that's a wait and see thing. My focus is still at MacEwan and finishing up the season here. Once the season's over, I'll start pursuing that."

The Griffins' season will soon come to an end when they visit Alberta on Feb. 19 (7 p.m., Clare Drake) for their regular season finale. In both games against the Golden Bears, they're looking to put down building blocks for next season.

"Even though we maybe haven't gotten the results the last couple of weekends, we went through an important time for our program," said Ringrose. "We were forced to look in the mirror. Some guys were forced to evaluate what they're doing and how they're approaching things. We were able to reach out and find some of that foundation that we need to be able to build on at this level.

"I think that our group faced a lot of adversity this year," he continued. "At the end of the day when we take the time to reflect on it, we'll realize it was a huge opportunity for our program to grow and the adversity we faced this year is going to serve us well moving forward.

"I think from our group this weekend, what we're looking for is just ending the season off on the right foot and making sure some of those things we've rediscovered over the last few weeks start to work their way into our game consistently for 60 minutes."