Comfortable and confident, Calahoo's Doyle making a big impact in second season with Griffins

Jayme Doyle looks for an opening against NAIT during a game earlier this month. She has three goals and five points in five games for the Griffins so far this season (Joel Kingston photography).
Jayme Doyle looks for an opening against NAIT during a game earlier this month. She has three goals and five points in five games for the Griffins so far this season (Joel Kingston photography).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – With her powerful skating stride, Jayme Doyle has the potential to put pressure on opposing ACAC women's hockey defences.

"I grew up playing with boys, so people tell me I skate like a guy," said the second-year MacEwan Griffins forward. "I think that's where I got that from."

Specifically, she grew up in tiny Calahoo, Alta. – about 45 minutes outside of Edmonton –playing with Chicago Blackhawks prospect and current University of Denver defenceman Ian Mitchell.

"I've looked up to him," said Doyle of her former atom teammate. "He's pushed me to make myself better.

"He got captaincy on his team this year and I congratulated him. I see him around sometimes because his parents live in Calahoo, too."

Even though Calahoo's population is just 85 people, including Doyle, who still lives there with her parents, neither holds the title of most famous hockey export. That currently belongs to former NHL tough guy and St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube, who brought the Stanley Cup to town last July.

Nevertheless, Doyle is well recognized for what she's done, winning three-straight championships – Esso Cup Midget AAA national titles in 2017 and 2018 with the St. Albert Slash before helping the Griffins capture the ACAC Championship last March.

"I have people coming up to me that I played with a long time ago saying 'Jayme, we always knew you were going to go far,' " she said. "I always have my hometown cheering me on, which is awesome."

Doyle leads the 5-0-0-0 Griffins into home action on Saturday as they host the 0-5-0-0 Olds College Broncos (6 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, ACAC TV).

No longer a fresh-faced rookie, Doyle is averaging a point a game through MacEwan's first five contests, scoring her third of the season in a 2-0 win over Olds on Thursday night.

"She's definitely more noticeable this year and has taken a step forward in terms of her confidence," said MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "Jayme Doyle is arguably the most powerful skater in our league – super efficient stride. I think she's an underrated skater.

"This year she's bought into the idea of driving the puck to the net and possessing the puck, controlling the offensive zone and that's why she's becoming more noticeable," she added. "Great skill-set with the puck, as well. She's got a great shot. She scored a beautiful goal against NAIT that I think exemplifies exactly what potential she has. Like any of our second years, she's slowly finding her game."

Like former St. Albert Slash teammate Shyla Kirwer, she's among the Griffins' scoring leaders. Both are in their second year and both look totally transformed from their rookie campaigns.

"I think you get more comfortable," said Doyle. "Coming into your first year, you're scared and don't know very many people. I didn't know what university life was like. Getting used to that your first year helps. You get more comfortable and confident."

Doyle and the Griffins will aim to stay unbeaten as they host an Olds team hungry for their first win on Saturday.

"It's always a tough matchup for us against Olds," said McAlpine. "They play a very physical game, they're hard-nosed, they never stop – they love to compete for the 60 minutes. They know they're in tough against us and I think that's what makes them stronger.

"I've told our players this: every team in our league is out to get us this year. Nobody wants to see us win four (straight) and Olds, especially. They've got some girls who play with such great grit. When their goalie's on, she's on. Scoring for us in the past has been a bit of an issue. Hopefully, we can continue our trend of putting pucks in the net."