Named captain for a second-straight season, Gable leads Griffins into opener Thursday in Calgary

Kole Gable goes against Saskatchewan during a game last season. The veteran forward is returning as captain of the Griffins in 2023-24 (Joel Kingston photo).
Kole Gable goes against Saskatchewan during a game last season. The veteran forward is returning as captain of the Griffins in 2023-24 (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Various levels of adversity, such as untimely injuries and travel delays, hit the MacEwan men's hockey team at several points last season and ultimately played a factor in them missing the playoffs by one point.

That's something they've chosen to take as a learning experience ahead of a new Canada West season, which begins on Thursday in Calgary (7 p.m., Canada West TV). 

The teams will also meet for MacEwan's home opener on Friday (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).


"I think I learned that having a positive outlook is a huge part of it," said captain Kole Gable, who will also wear the 'C' again this season. "Adversity hits throughout the season for any athlete. It's knowing you can bounce back and being there for the young guys, just proving to them that it's not the end of the world – you can come back the next day smiling. I think that's my plan to bring into this season."

Gable has found the captain's role to be part counsellor, part tutor and a lot of leading by example.

"I think last year he did a great job of leading our group," said Griffins head coach Zack Dailey. "He's a really good person. He's someone who's easy to talk to for his teammates but is also someone who leads by example and does the right thing all the time. 

"I think last year our group struggled with adversity … so I think just having that experience and that attitude that no matter what happens, we're still going to work and get better. I think he brings a little bit of that – no excuses, things happen, but we've got to keep working through it."

Sean Comrie and Jordan Taupert will both wear the 'A' again this season and will be joined by veteran Marc Pasemko in the leadership group.

"I think that Comrie and Taupert are more lead-by-example guys," said Dailey. "Taupert's one of our engines on the ice. His energy is inspiring to his teammates. He works and doesn't say a whole lot. And that's kind of the same as Sean. Sean knows all our guys and our systems. He's directing guys on the ice and does everything correctly all the time. 

"Marc is another guy who brings energy to our group, but he's a little bit more vocal, so I think he'll be a good complement to our other guys where he's not afraid to talk a bit and help our guys out. He'll be a great addition to our leadership group."

Gaining a playoff berth for the first time in program history remains the goal for this group, especially after they came so close last February, tying with Regina for sixth, but losing out on a spot due to a tiebreaker. 

They were in a playoff spot for much of the season, but faltered down the stretch and couldn't get the one point they needed in a regular season finale series at eventual Canada West champion Calgary. Gable says the experience drives home the point that they need to buckle down early in the campaign.

"I think you learn that even the start of the season matters a lot," he said. "Some games you think, 'oh it's only October, maybe it's not as important as you might think.' But coming down the stretch, that one point changes, obviously, whether you make the playoffs or not. 

"But I think we also learned MacEwan's a good team," he added. "Our program's great and we can make it. We have the parts in here to do it. We just have to work for that and just come in with a good attitude every day."

Calgary presents a supreme challenge on opening weekend as they come in ranked No. 1 in the Canada West coaches' poll after returning the bulk of their core from a CW championship season a year ago.

"We know that they're a good team and we know they didn't lose a lot of pieces, so they're going to come in playing well, obviously excited from their win last year," said Gable. "I think it's a good test for us early because we have a lot of young guys on our team. They can see what the league's going to be about and if we're playing the best team in Canada, there's no better place to start."

Dailey noted the ultimate goal for a young team, which includes 12 U SPORTS rookies, is to find their identity early.

"Our MO is going to be our hard work and our willingness to do the dirty work – blocking shots, finishing checks," he said. "All of those are going to be very important if we're going to be successful this year."