Program's new career points leader Jans leads Griffins into weekend series against SAIT

Shyla Jans, seen in alone on Olds goalie Lexi Bruce during a game last month, notched an assist last Friday against NAIT to break the Griffins' career points mark with 62 (Joel Kingston Photography).
Shyla Jans, seen in alone on Olds goalie Lexi Bruce during a game last month, notched an assist last Friday against NAIT to break the Griffins' career points mark with 62 (Joel Kingston Photography).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – If you could travel back in time to 2015 and tell rookie MacEwan Griffins women's hockey forward Shyla Jans that four years later she would be the all-time career points leader in program history, she would have had a good laugh.

"I probably would not have believed you at all," chuckled the fifth-year senior who etched her name in the Griffins' record book with an assist against NAIT last Friday – the 62nd regular season point of her career.

That eclipsed the previous high watermark of 61 that Dominique Scheurer reached in her final season in 2018-19 and was previously established by Melody Howard (2006-09).

"It's definitely cool because coming in in my first year, I didn't think I'd be anywhere near that," said Jans. "It's definitely cool to see how much I've grown since my first year coming in – not even knowing if I'd be in the lineup to now having the most career points."

In fact, she remembers her first weekend of Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference action vividly. She was a healthy scratch in the season opener.

"I wasn't supposed to play that very first weekend of my first season because I was just mixed in the lineup everywhere," she recalled. "But I remember coming in the second game because they lost and Lindsay (McAlpine) just threw me in to change things up.

"I just took that opportunity to fight my way into the lineup. I ended up getting four points that very first game that I played in the ACAC. Two goals and two assists, I think. I was on a line with Chaps (Michelle Pochapsky) and Domi. I think that first season stands out the most."

Jans was an ACAC second team all-star that season (2015-16) and would repeat that feat in 2016-17.

Along the way, Jans has amassed 32 goals and 30 assists. She currently sits just two snipes shy of the MacEwan career goals record held by Colleen Gamache, who scored 34 from 2002-04. And she needs one powerplay marker to set a new career mark in that category, currently sitting tied with Jayden Skoye (2009-12) for top spot with 11.

"Always great when a current player can break a record, for sure," said McAlpine. "As much as I speak about us not having a go-to goal scorer, Janny would be our closest thing to it. She's a very dangerous player in the offensive zone, that's her strength.

"She's also somebody who puts in extra time. In all these five years, if there's an extra 15 minutes before or after practice, Shyla's out there working on something – deflections, shooting, hitting a target and I think that's paid off for her."

While Jans is savouring the record, she knows it's only a matter of time before it gets broken again. Teammate Chantal Ricker, for one, is currently just 12 points off the mark and she still has another season after this one of university eligibility.

"I think it shows how well our program is growing," said Jans. "Domi tied it last year and then I broke it this year and then I know Ricky is close. She might break it next year, so that just shows how well our program's grown over the last five years."

Jans will lead the Griffins (7-3-0-0) into a weekend series against SAIT (1-7-0-0) in Calgary on Friday (7 p.m., ACAC TV) and at the Downtown Community Arena on Saturday (6 p.m., ACAC TV).

Although she has the record, Jans would be just as happy to see a teammate score as herself.

"It's definitely interesting and cool to look at all the points and see that, but I think the biggest thing is it doesn't really matter who gets the point as long as somebody puts the puck in the net," she said. "I think that's been one of our struggles. We've always been known as a defensive team, so we just want anyone to get the puck in the net."

These days, that's certainly the Griffins' mantra; they've scored just four goals in their past three games, all losses. They'll aim to stop the slide this weekend against the ACAC cellar-dwelling Trojans, whom they blasted 5-2 and 5-1 during a weekend sweep in their last meetings Oct. 18-19.

"We have had tough games against SAIT as well," noted McAlpine. "We're not taking this weekend by any means as a chance to walk in there and sweep. I'm hoping that we can earn four points out of this weekend.

"We've put in tons of work this week in practice on different strategies with our attack and how we can create more offence in that red zone. I think the girls are buying in and are excited. If we put 40 pucks on net again, I'm hoping we do it with a little more purpose this weekend."