Off-ice work ethic paying off for Davis, who leads Griffins with a .943 save percentage so far

Thomas Davis thwarts a Dinos chance during their meeting on Sept. 28 in Calgary. He made 50 saves in the 4-3 loss (Calgary Dinos photo).
Thomas Davis thwarts a Dinos chance during their meeting on Sept. 28 in Calgary. He made 50 saves in the 4-3 loss (Calgary Dinos photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Thomas Davis' gruelling summer routine began when he arrived at the job site to pour asphalt and work on a road construction crew each day at 7 a.m.

An hour after quittin' time, he headed to MacEwan for four hours of night classes.

Then there was a daily 9 p.m. workout to properly prepare for the grind of the Canada West men's hockey season before his head could hit the pillow to rest up and prepare to do it all over again the next morning.

If you're tired from just reading that, you're not alone.

"It was a bit of a grind for the summer, but it was worth it," said Davis. "Now I can graduate."

It also set him for the rigours and pressure of playing goaltender for the Griffins. Because he always made sure to sneak in a workout, Davis arrived on the team's fitness testing day and finished first.

"We run beep test, we do the wind gate test and then some strength tests and we score those all together," explained Griffins head coach Zack Dailey. "He had the top score. He had the best beep test result, his peak power was the highest out of everyone, his strength was top two or three. 

"All around, he was a well-conditioned person coming into camp and that was one of my expectations, so I'm definitely happy to see him get rewarded for doing stuff I asked him to do."

After leading the Griffins in fitness testing, Thomas Davis is leading them on the ice, too (Chris Lindsey photo).

Davis is proof that hard work off the ice pays off on it as he's been lights out for the Griffins so far this season, stopping 82 of 87 shots sent his way in two games. His .943 save percentage is currently third best in Canada West.

"It's always been a cornerstone, making sure I'm physically fit enough for the rigours of a season," said the St. Albert product, who previously played for the AJHL's Canmore Eagles. "It was definitely hard, but it was one thing I really wanted to have in my game, especially my last year. 

"It's something I really pride myself on, being physically fit, eating right and making sure I'm ready for fitness testing. That's the end goal of the summer."

Davis will lead MacEwan into a home-and-home series against cross-town rival Alberta on Friday (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena) and Saturday (7 p.m., Clare Drake Arena, both Canada West TV). MacEwan Griffins alumni wearing an 'M Sweater' will get in free to Friday's game.


Griffins student-athlete alumni will get in free to Friday's game (7 p.m., Downtown Community Arena) if they wear their M Sweater.

Davis made 50 saves in MacEwan's 4-3 loss to Calgary in their season opener Sept. 28, keeping them in the game against the defending conference champions until late in the third.

Then, his last outing was also impressive – a 2-1 shootout loss at Saskatchewan last Saturday, when he made 32 saves in regulation and OT and four more in the shootout before finally get beat in the fifth round.

"It is just two games so far, so I can't say too much about it, but it feels good," said Davis, who has been mostly in a backup goaltender role since coming into the program in 2019. "Obviously, a few wins would have been nice, but a point's good, as well. I'm just making sure I'm doing my best out there to help the guys win – just trying to get in front of as many pucks as I can. 

"I'm just having fun, especially, because it's my last year. You never know when it's going to be over, so I'm just enjoying every moment, every early morning practice, every game."

That includes early morning practices, which start at the same time he was working road construction in the summer. The grind continues and he's enjoying every second.

"I think it's important knowing how to put yourself through a tough stretch," he said. "I can't complain. I got it pretty easy – just got to go to work, go to school and play hockey."

And work out. Davis set the standard for the team and Dailey couldn't be prouder.

"That's what we need if our program's going to change," he said. "He's one of the people who pushes it in the right direction. The expectation is everyone comes in in shape. That's not the reality. But when you have your older players doing what you asked, the younger guys have to follow suit. 

"He's part of the changing of the culture and I'm super proud he's part of our team."

Thomas Davis has stopped 82 of 87 shots so far for the Griffins (Chris Lindsey photo).

Davis has the hot hand right now, but he's also more than happy to support his goalie partners. Ashton Abel was incredible last season, winning MacEwan's Male Athlete of the Year award, and Eric Ward – a transfer from Concordia (ACAC) – has looked solid so far. All are incredibly supportive of the others' success.

"Ashton and I are best friends, so we're always joking around on the ice," said Davis. "He unbelievable, he's so good at his position. It's fun to push each other in practice and be a bit of a goalie duo, sharing inside jokes. 

"Eric's awesome, too. He's played so well in the games he's gotten. Eric's a great guy. Both of those guys are awesome. We help push each other in practice and we're always giving each other applause and a helping hand."

Dailey is the one who has to choose a starter each game and the guys are making it tough on him.

"Definitely a good problem to have," he said. "It probably creates some headaches for me, but it's a good problem. Every guy has performed, so it's really tough choices. 

"At the end of the day, I have to go with my gut who I think can get us a win on that day. It's definitely a good problem to have when you believe all three guys can give you a chance to win on a regular basis."