Teammates remember Reimer as the energetic, guiding light of MacEwan's women's hockey dynasty

Jordyn Reimer, seen scoring a goal against SAIT during the 2016-17 season, died in a motor vehicle crash in Winnipeg on May 1 (Nick Kuiper photo).
Jordyn Reimer, seen scoring a goal against SAIT during the 2016-17 season, died in a motor vehicle crash in Winnipeg on May 1 (Nick Kuiper photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – The upbeat, energetic pulse of three-straight MacEwan Griffins women's hockey championship teams, Jordyn Reimer could instantly light up a room with her beaming smile and infectious laugh.

She brought the fun, the energy, the lifeblood of a team that became an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference dynasty with titles in 2017, 2018, 2019 and another unofficial one in 2020 when COVID halted play with the Griffins up 2-0 in the best-of-five final.

Tragically, Reimer was killed in a motor vehicle crash in her hometown of Winnipeg on May 1. She was 24.

Teammates are left to grieve, heal and lean on each other for support as they remember a friend who will never be forgotten.

"I've never known a friend like her," said former Griffin Tessa Mitchell, who bonded instantly with Reimer when she came into the program as a rookie in 2017. "(She was) just always so loyal. She'd be the first person I'd go to for advice.

"I'll miss the daily texts, snap chats and FaceTimes. (Her passing) leaves a gaping hole in my life. It's going to be hard to move forward without her."

Jordyn Reimer hoists the 2018-19 ACAC Championship trophy at NAIT Arena - the third title of her MacEwan career (Len Joudrey photo).

Friend and teammate Jessica Dyck was also in daily contact with Reimer. Even though she lives in St. Albert and her friend lived in Brandon, Man., they would regularly chat about what they were eating, what movie they were seeing and how cute Reimer's dogs were.

"I'm going to miss her so much," said Dyck, who played with Reimer for three seasons (2015-18). "I still can't believe it. She's going to be a part of my life forever. I know she's going to be a part of everybody's life forever. She was just one of a kind.

"She was part of my day-to-day life and I don't know how I'm going to move on without her."

Former Griffins captain Sydney Thomlison, who played for MacEwan from 2013-18, remembered Reimer as someone who had a special light.

"She was just smiling and laughing and had the most contagious laugh," said Thomlison. "If she was laughing, it made other people laugh.

"She was the type of person that everyone was drawn to and wanted to be around. You knew if you were spending any amount of time with her you were going to be having fun and enjoying that time."

Jordyn Reimer (back row, centre) and her Griffins teammates ham it up on their 2017-18 team photo day. They have a lifetime bond and are coming together to grieve Reimer's loss (Len Joudrey photo).

Several of Reimer's Griffins teammates are travelling to Winnipeg for Saturday's funeral, but in the immediate dark days following the tragedy, they've already been supporting each other, over the phone, online and in person.

Reimer's longtime linemate, Morgan Casson, notes those living in the Edmonton area have an "open door policy" where everyone is welcome to drop by any other teammate's house at any time to talk, grieve, share stories and just cry.

"There have also been a few teammates who aren't in Edmonton that I've just sat on the phone with for an hour at a time in silence, just so it feels like someone's there with you," said Casson.

As a fellow rookie with Reimer in 2015-16, Casson was placed on her line next to Denzelle Bourgeois. Off and on, they were also paired together in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons, but it was in their final two campaigns at MacEwan that they were inseparable, joined on one of the Griffins' top lines by Shyla Jans (in 2018-19) and Chantal Ricker (in 2019-20). They were even out on the penalty kill together.

"She was such a spitfire of a player and a person," said Casson of Reimer. "She always gave 100% of her effort. She would sacrifice her body numerous times every game, whether that was blocking shots or crashing the net. She was so competitive. She did everything to try and win. She gave everything every shift."

Jordyn Reimer passes off to a teammate during a game against Olds in the 2019-20 season (Joel Kingston photo).

Reimer's importance to the Griffins on the ice was cemented shift by shift, game by game as her tenacity, fight, grit and dependability led to her to playing more regular season games than any player before her when she graduated in 2020 with 117 of them to her credit over five seasons with the program. She added 16 more games in the ACAC playoffs.

"We were lucky to have Jordyn in our corner," said Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine. "I can see and hear her leading the Griffins out the door with the same intensity and passion during a mid-season Thursday night game or championship final. 

"It was not a coincidence that the Reimer sisters joined our program and our team created history by winning three – let's call it four – consecutive ACAC Championship titles."

Jordyn played three seasons with her sister Nikki, who transferred to MacEwan from the University of Alberta, and they were part of three championship teams together. In an odd quirk, though, Jordyn never actually played in an ACAC final game until that third championship.

Jordyn Reimer (back row) wasn't able to play in the 2017-18 ACAC final series against Red Deer after breaking her wrist, but the team-first player considered it good luck for the team that she was out (Tony Hansen photo).

"The first year we won the championship, she didn't get to play in the final series because she got a concussion," noted Casson of 2016-17. "The next year, we were going into the final series. She went to crash the net and was skating as hard as she could. She got tripped and she went into the goal post and shattered her wrist.

"In our dressing room, Lindsay made a comment like 'oh my God, you're going to be out for the final series again, Jordyn.' And all Jordan said was, 'It's good luck.'

"It's funny because it just showed where her mentality is. She broke her wrist, she's screaming in pain and all she's thinking about is it's good luck – 'I was out last year for the final series, so this is good luck for us this year, too.'

"She was so team first. All she cared about was winning; she didn't care if she was going to be able to play. Her main thought was this was good luck for the finals."

In 2018-19, though, as the Griffins wrapped up a 3-0 sweep over the cross-town rival Ooks at NAIT Arena with a 3-2 overtime win, the Reimer sisters were able to celebrate on the ice, both in uniform. They didn't need Jordyn on the sidelines to win.

Sisters Jordyn, left, and Nikki Reimer celebrate the Griffins' third-straight ACAC title in 2018-19. It was the first championship final that Jordyn got to play in (Len Joudrey photo).

"It meant everything," said Casson. "Everyone was making jokes the whole time – 'is Jordyn going to get hurt yet?' But everyone was so excited she got to lift the Cup in her equipment.

"She was the kind of person that whether she was dressed or not she made an incredible impact on the team. It was pretty special for her to finally have that opportunity."

Reimer graduated from MacEwan in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Sociology with a minor in Psychology, but not before she made an impact on hundreds of people. The evidence is in a Go Fund Me page to help her family pay for funeral costs where more than $60,000 was raised on the first day.

"I think she was the most real, authentic and genuine person I've ever met," said Casson. "She never let anyone influence her or change the way she was. She was such a strong person and being that way she allowed others to feel comfortable being themselves around her, too.

"I think one of the best parts of Jordyn was the way she treated every person, every day – just the small interactions she had with them. It's what made everyone feel a part of the team and included. I think that's what created such a strong sense of unity in the dressing room."

And she had carrots. Every game she would superstitiously eat the healthy vegetable, even when she grew tired of the taste.

"I think it started as just a nice in-between-periods snack, but it turned into 'well, it's superstitious now, I have to do it,' " related Dyck. "So she did it. I think her whole five years she would haves her baggy of carrot sticks and she would have to squirt them with water so they were nice and juicy. It got to the point where even if she took a bite, she would start to wince. She was like 'I've had these every game for four years now.' "

That's just one of hundreds of stories Dyck has filed away. Another is her skates.

"She had the grossest Easton skates – they were so chunky and clunky and they were four sizes too big for her," she said. "It was so funny."

Jordyn Reimer, seen sharing a moment with linemate Chantal Ricker during the 2019-20 ACAC final, left an impression on her teammates that will never be forgotten (Len Joudrey photo).

"We always had an ongoing joke about her apartment that she lived in and her sister moved in there, too," continued Dyck with another memory. "It was called The Kensington and it was one of the grossest places we've ever been, but so many people slept there, we had fun there, we had so many memories there.

"Not one story can pinpoint Jord. A hundred. Thousands. Any moment with her is a story."

Including how the Griffins' goal scoring song came to be.

Reimer scored 19 times in her MacEwan career, so she triggered the song on multiple occasions. In her first season, game day staff played Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) after each MacEwan goal, which caused befuddled and quizzical looks among fellow rookies Reimer and Dyck.

It didn't fit.

"Me and Jord were talking about it together because our first year we were like, 'what song is this? Nobody wants this song to be ours,' " recalled Dyck. "Me and Jord were saying 'wouldn't it be funny if a Three Day's Grace song came on?' And she was like 'yeah.'

"We were going through them and she brought up 'Riot' and I was like 'yes, I am on board. That would be so funny.' It became just an iconic song."

Riot, still played after every Griffins' goal scorer today, fit the team's identity perfectly. Thanks to Jordyn, they had a piece of music that would drive opponents crazy.

"We had friends on other teams," explained Dyck. "One of the goalies, she was friends with Morgan, too, was like 'I hate that song now. I can't stand it.'

"It just defined her five years and my three years (at MacEwan). It was so funny."

Jordyn Reimer, left, receives her graduating senior photo from MacEwan Griffins head coach Lindsay McAlpine before the team's final home regular season game of 2019-20 (Joel Kingston photo).

In that theme, McAlpine sums up her impact perfectly.

"I love coaching people; hockey is just the medium," she said. "Jordyn was one of my people, part of our Griffins family. 

"She started a riot, and we will forever honour her by making sure that noise never stops."

For more details on Saturday's Celebration of Life, click here.