Graduating Seniors Q&A: Abel, Davis, Gable and Taupert all had big impacts on the program

Ashton Abel, from left, Thomas Davis, Kole Gable and Jordan Taupert will be playing the final regular season home games of their Griffins careers this weekend.
Ashton Abel, from left, Thomas Davis, Kole Gable and Jordan Taupert will be playing the final regular season home games of their Griffins careers this weekend.

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Three of the final four players left on the Griffins men's hockey roster from MacEwan's ACAC era are set to graduate at the end of this season.

Thomas Davis, Kole Gable and Jordan Taupert – who first played for MacEwan in its last ACAC season in 2019-20 – will join fifth-year transfer Ashton Abel as four graduating seniors set to be feted prior to their final home game of the Canada West regular season on Saturday.

The Griffins will host Regina on Friday (7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m., both Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).


After this season, only Spencer McLean – who plans to return to the Griffins for his final year of eligibility in 2024-25 – will be left to carry the torch from the program's ACAC era, which spanned from 1998-2020 before the Griffins joined U SPORTS.

"Our first year in the ACAC, it got cut short there due to COVID," recalled Taupert of the March shutdown at the onset of the pandemic that affected much of daily life, including sports. "I remember winning Round 1 in playoffs and moving on to Round 2 and that ended up getting cut short. We would have definitely won a championship that year in ACAC, that's what I believe. We had a good team to do it. 

"It was cool to be one of the last guys on the team to close that chapter and then open up a new one for U SPORTS. That's been a really cool experience."

MacEwan's four seniors will have a shot to end their careers on a high note, as well, as the Griffins chase the first Canada West playoff spot in program history. They are three points up on their opponent this weekend for the sixth and final post-season berth, so it's a pivotal series against the Cougars.

After this weekend, the Griffins have just two games left (at Manitoba on Feb. 2-3), while the Cougars have four regular season games remaining (vs. Trinity Western Feb. 2-3 and at Calgary on Feb. 9-10).

However it all shakes out, MacEwan has come a long way since first joining Canada West in 2021.

"Just seeing how the program's moved from ACAC, the COVID year and then our first year moving forward, it's nice to see how much MacEwan is coming together as a program," said captain Kole Gable. "Right now, we're fighting for a playoff spot, so it makes me proud to see that."

As we prepare to honour the program's four graduating seniors on Saturday, enjoy a Q&A with each one:


Zack Dailey's coach quote:

"Stability is the probably the best word. As a new program which is going through growth and learning, he's someone who was a rock for us. He gave us a chance to win hockey games. Very calm, very professional. He just came every day and worked, got better and helped our team win. 

"I definitely think he's one of the best goalies in the conference. His skating allows him to be in good positions. He can make highlight-reel saves, but a lot of times they look like routine saves because he's getting there quickly on his feet. I think just his calming presence. He doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low. He doesn't really goaltend emotionally. He relies on his instincts."

Ashton Abel enters the weekend with 13 career wins, 2,053:01 career minutes played and 1,033 saves - all sixth in program history, including the ACAC era (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Q&A with Ashton Abel

Graduating with …

I'm taking Commerce and I'll be getting a Supply Chain Management degree. 

Do you have a career goal in mind?

Not really right now. It's kind of up in the air what my plans are heading into next year. I have a couple classes left still, so I'll have to get those done, play it by ear and see what happens.

Do you have any plans to continue playing hockey anywhere?

It's something I've been thinking about for the last couple months. I think I'd like to find somewhere to play next year, but we'll see what happens, see what kind of opportunities are out there.

You've obviously had a unique post-secondary experience going down to the NCAA (three seasons at Boston University) and then up here to MacEwan. When you look back at all of it, how do you reflect on your journey?

I think it was a great experience. Obviously, BU's a big school. Getting to go down to the States and live in Boston (was great). It's such a cool city. Overall, the university experience was great for me.

What are some of your favourite memories the last two years being a Griffin?

I think seeing the guys come together as a team. Obviously, they only had one year in U SPORTS and Canada West before I came here and it's tough joining a league. So, seeing the guys come together and really build and move the program forward has been cool to see.

You won the Male Athlete of the Year award last season across all sports at MacEwan. What did that mean to you?

Obviously, it's very cool to get some recognition. But at the end of the day, for me, the best thing about it was being able to play again. The couple years before I came to MacEwan, I didn't get to see a whole lot of ice time. So, coming here it was awesome just to get back in the net, back to doing what I love to do.

You've been a big contributor to the Griffins over the last couple years. How do you think your time here will live on as a legacy, so to speak?

I don't know if I'd look on it as a legacy, but I tried to do what I could to help the program and I think that's ultimately why I was brought in by Mike Ringrose and Zack Dailey. I think I just tried to do everything I could to help the guys win every night.

Is there anything else you'd like to say about your time at MacEwan?

Just that I'm very appreciative of the opportunity I was given to come in and play a lot of games. I thank the coaching staff and the program for that. I just really enjoyed my time at MacEwan and I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes next.


Zack Dailey coach quote:

"Tommy's a funny character. He's a great teammate. He's one of, if not the favourite teammate of the bunch. He treats everyone the way they want to be treated, very personable, very funny and then his work ethic was unmatched. He won fitness testing every year he was here. He worked hard in practice, didn't quit on any pucks and forced guys to get better. For him, it was just leading by example. He didn't always get rewarded for his hard work, but he stuck with it anyways. I think that's a very valuable trait and that's going to make him successful after he's done playing."

 Thomas Davis enters the weekend with seven career wins (tied for 11th in program history), 1,219:01 minutes played (11th) and 930 saves (seventh) (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Q&A with Thomas Davis:

Graduating with …

Commerce with a Major in Supply Chain Management

Do you have a career goal in mind?

Probably buy Amazon from Jeff Bezos.

Nice. Do you have any plans to keep playing hockey?

Beer league. I'll keep playing beer league. I just got a new mask, so I can't let that go to waste. I have to use it somehow.

The guys always describe you as funny and such a great teammate. How have you been that over the years?

That's nice to hear. I don't know, probably just being laid back, trying to be personable, trying to be nice and just have a positive attitude and bring a smile every day.

What are some of your favourite memories of your time with the program? You've been here since the Griffins were in the ACAC.

Yeah, geez, it's been a while, eh? Five years. Probably my first U SPORTS win would be one of them. That was a nice milestone. And just every 7 a.m. practice we ever had. I think those were all tied for some of the best memories. Just love it so much.

What more do you remember about your first win?

It was last year in February against Mount Royal. I think it was 2-1 in overtime.

Do you remember any saves from that game? You stopped 43 of 44 shots.

I think I got one off (Nolan) Yaremko in the first period – a little back door pass. Now he's making a little name for himself in the American (Hockey) League, so that was nice.

You've had a chance to play with a lot of players over your career here in two different eras of the program. How do you look back at the whole thing?

There have been a lot of people I've seen in and out of here. But all the guys I've played with are awesome and amazing. I've loved meeting every single one of them and being friends with all of them.

How do you think your time at MacEwan will be remembered? What's your legacy here?

I hope just to be remembered as a positive influence and a hard worker that helped set a culture coming into U SPORTS. Hopefully, guys remember me fondly and laugh about some memories.

Anything else you'd like to say about your time at MacEwan?

Not much, maybe maroon's my favourite colour now.


Zack Dailey's coach quote:

"He pretty much sums up what it is to be a Griffin. He's an unbelievable person, a great leader, stresses doing the right thing all the time. He's calm in the face of adversity and is someone for our group that guys could really lean on and get advice from. He's also someone who played extremely hard, finished checks, blocked shots and did the little things, as well as scoring goals and playing on powerplays for us. He's someone who will be missed, for sure, but he sums up what it means to be a Griffin in terms of being a good person and a good hockey player."

 Kole Gable enters the weekend with 46 points in 92 career regular season games at MacEwan (31 of those in 64 Canada West contests) (Rebecca Chelmick photo).

Q&A with Kole Gable:

Graduating with …

Marketing Major and Finance Minor

Do you have a career goal in mind?

In an ideal world, I'd love to be a hockey agent, but I'm kind of up in the air. I don't know if I'm going to continue to play hockey or move on with my job. It's something I have to decide soon.

That was my next question. Do you plan to keep playing hockey?

I'm kind of feeling out some options and keeping some doors open. I haven't really gone all in on anything yet. It's just deciding what's best for me.

You've been the Griffins' captain for two years. What's that experience been like for you?

Honestly, that's one of my proudest accomplishments …  It's been a good experience with the young guys and making friendships, and all that. This has been my favourite experience, for sure. Just being here and being around all the time.

When you've been a captain, does that leadership transfer into the rest of your life? How will that help you in the future?

It's taught me how to interact with different personalities. You've got 25 guys in the locker-room and not everyone reacts the same way to situations. It's taught me how to read people a lot better. I think it's given me a lot of confidence in myself as a person and being a leader. It's honestly taught me a lot of things. It kind of leaves me speechless sometimes.

Over your time as a Griffin, are there any favourite memories that stand out to you?

I'd say being the captain was one of the biggest things. I remember when I was told it was a surreal moment because you never think about university hockey and being a captain and being that guy. I also remember the Vancouver trip last year when we were stuck there for a few days. At the time, it kind of sucked, but now you look back and it was a fun memory and good team building. It's something I'll honestly never forget.

How do you think you'll be remembered on the Griffins as your legacy?

I hope I'm remembered as just an easy-going guy who let everyone feel involved and welcomed. I never took myself too seriously, kept everything light, even in tough situations. And just a personable person who was open to talk to anyone and just be around and well liked.

Anything else you'd like to say about your time at MacEwan?

This has been the best five years of my life. I think it's taught me how to be an adult, but it's still let me be a kid at times. It's been the best. Living downtown in Edmonton and going to school every day, and then you make some lifelong friends. It's just been the best experience. It's sad to see it go and come to a close. 


Zack Dailey's coach quote:

"From Day 1, he had an offensive impact. He skates extremely well, really good edges, good vision on the ice. Probably an underrated shot – I don't think he uses that enough. But he was someone who was a pretty prolific scorer in juniors and he kept that up at our level, as well. He's someone who's just our engine. He's always going, always skating and moving in practice. He sets the pace. So, he's someone who is going to be missed offensively, but he's also an energizer for our team. Lots of times in games and practices, he goes up against guys much bigger than him and comes away with the puck, so it's inspiring to our group. He's also a favourite of the teammates. He's a very funny kid and treats people with a ton of respect. He has the respect of his teammates."

 Jordan Taupert enters the weekend as MacEwan's career Canada West points leader with 39 points in 68 games, and has 67 in 96 games, stretching back to his rookie season in the ACAC in 2019-20 (Derek Harback photo).

Q&A with Jordan Taupert:

Graduating with …

Sociology degree. It won't be this semester. I need one more class, so I'll probably do that after this semester ends in the spring.

Do you have a career goal in mind?

Not right now. I'm looking to go over to Europe and play hockey. That's what I've been focusing on, not too much career-wise.

Do you have any specific options or are you open to what's out there?

I'd like to play over in Germany. I have citizenship, so I'd like to go and play some hockey over there.

Obviously you've been here since the ACAC era. What stands out to you as some of your favourite memories?

Probably scoring my first ACAC goal in my first game (a 3-2 OT win over Red Deer College Oct. 11, 2019) and my first U SPORTS goal in my second game (a 5-2 win over Regina on Oct. 16, 2021). Obviously, joining U SPORTS and pushing the program further, that's always been an awesome experience.

I don't know if you know this, but at the moment, you're the program's leading scorer in U SPORTS points with 39 in 68 games. What does that mean to you to have that impact?

Wow, I didn't know that. Obviously it was a step up from ACAC, but over the past three years, I think that I've done a good job of adjusting to that level of play. I got to thank Dales (Dailey) for pushing me. It's been great so far.

You've won two trophies at Athletics banquets over your career – Male Rookie of the year in 2020 and then the Men's Hockey Most Improved last year. What has it meant to you to win those?

Obviously, the Male Rookie of the Year, that was a great award to get in your first year in college. Knowing the difference between junior and college – that step up – and it ended up being a good step for me and I excelled at it. I couldn't have done it without my teammates either, so that was awesome. The Most Improved award, taking that step from ACAC to U SPORTS was a challenge. Last year, I kind of broke out a little bit after my first year in U SPORTS. I got more comfortable with it and the style of play – the aggressiveness – and I think I adapted really well to it.

How will you be remembered? What's your legacy with the program?

I think just my personal values as a person and accomplishments with the team over the past five years. I think my actions as a person, and hopefully that resonates with people around me – 'Oh ya, Taupert, he was an awesome guy.'

Is there anything else you'd like to say about your time with the Griffins?

Obviously, I'm going to miss coming to the rink every day, seeing the guys and being able to hang out with them. Over the past five years, they've grown to be my second family every year. And Dales was a big part of my growth, too. For the past five years, he made me into a better hockey player, but more importantly a better human being, as well. Dales always came to the rink with a positive attitude and positive mindset and that was contagious. He's just been a good mentor through my MacEwan experience. I'm glad that we started U SPORTS together and helped push the program forward.