Griffins put exclamation mark on historic moment, pummelling Bisons 7-2 to earn first CW playoff spot

Griffins players celebrate one of their seven goals against Manitoba on Friday (Dave Mahussier photo).
Griffins players celebrate one of their seven goals against Manitoba on Friday (Dave Mahussier photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

WINNIPEG, Man. – In a statement win that included putting up a converted touchdown on the Manitoba Bisons, the MacEwan Griffins clinched the program's first Canada West playoff berth on Friday night.

Captain Kole Gable picked a perfect time to record his first career U SPORTS hat-trick, while Kadyn Chabot scored twice to break the program record for the most goals in a CW season by a rookie as the Griffins pummeled the Bisons 7-2.

"It's a really excited group," said MacEwan head coach Zack Dailey. "I'm super proud of them. A lot of hard work and effort went into this – a lot of sacrifice and a lot of commitment – so I'm really proud of these guys.

"But the messaging was, 'just making it in isn't what our goal was.' We're happy to be there, but we want to be playing hockey, we want to push teams and we want to win games. We don't have that long to celebrate it. Our focus is on playing our best hockey and competing to win games."

The Griffins came into the contest seven points up on Regina for the sixth and final playoff spot, so they just needed a point to clinch, but they took care of business with an exclamation mark instead. With the result, they move to 9-17-1, remaining seven points up on the Cougars (5-18-2), who beat Trinity Western 8-0 on Friday, but will fall short with only three games left.

"It's something we've been working for ever since we got into U SPORTS, so being my last year and being the captain, it just feels really good to get that clinch and get a chance to make a statement in the playoffs," said Gable, who scored two first-period goals – including the game-winner – and netted the hat-trick late in the second.

It's only the second time a Griffins player has scored a hat-trick in Canada West competition, after Ethan Strang also did it against Manitoba earlier this season.

"It was great," said Dailey. "I challenged our guys to do a good job of being in front of the goalie and all of those goals were directly that. He did a good job in front, he got one tipped, he found a rebound. All goals were right in front of the net and gritty, so he's leading by example for our group."

Chabot scored MacEwan's fourth and sixth goals of the contest, both of them off pinpoint snipes that made the water bottle dance above Manitoba goaltender Ross Hawryluk's shoulder. That gives him 11 on the season, which surpasses the program rookie record of nine set by Strang in 2022-23.

"The expectation for him was to take an offensive role for our team this year," said Dailey of the former Spruce Grove Saints forward. "I'm not sure we expected him to be this good right away. But he's someone who produces for our team offensively as a first year, which is great. 

"Tonight, I thought he was really good. His aim was on. He had a couple really, really accurate shots that were great. I'm happy guys are getting these kinds of offensive games before playoffs because we need to be at our best."

Fellow rookie Vincent Scott rounded out the scoring with MacEwan's seventh of the contest – his third short-handed goal of the season – giving him the most shorties in Canada West.

"Definitely speed," said Dailey when asked what makes him so effective on the PK. "He absolutely flies out there and he's good at anticipating when pucks are going to be sent down the ice without cheating. So, that's something that's great – using his speed, his smarts and anticipation and I'm happy he's getting rewarded for that."

Strang and Jordan Taupert added three helpers each for the Griffins.

Strang, who already has the program's single CW season goals (12) and points (27) record, now also has the assists mark, too – up to 15, topping Merritt Oszytko's 12 he had last season.

MacEwan and Manitoba will meet again on Saturday (2 p.m. MT, Canada West TV), which is the Griffins' final regular season game before a bye week, and then the opening round of the playoffs.

Gable said they have plenty to stay motivated for.

"I think if we win tomorrow, we set the record for the most wins in program history, so we're still motivated," he said. "We've got business to do, and we want to play our best because we're going into playoffs next game after this, so we just want to stay dialled and tune ourselves up for the next weekend."