New additions bringing energy as Griffins prepare for preseason-opening tourney at NAIT

Mila Verbicky and the Griffins will kick off a seven-game preseason slate vs. NAX U18 Prep on Friday evening at NAIT Arena (Joel Kingston photo).
Mila Verbicky and the Griffins will kick off a seven-game preseason slate vs. NAX U18 Prep on Friday evening at NAIT Arena (Joel Kingston photo).

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – With the eight new players on the roster bringing energy and the veterans providing leadership to the training camp sessions so far, the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team is champing at the bit to get into some game action.

They don't have to wait any longer as they'll head a few blocks north to NAIT for an exhibition preseason showcase this weekend.

MacEwan meets NAX U18 Prep on Friday (5:15 p.m.), Lakeland College on Saturday (12:30 p.m.) and NAIT on Sunday (1:45 p.m., all NAIT Arena).

"We're playing teams that we won't play this season – NAX, Lakeland and NAIT," said Griffins head coach Chris Leeming. "We talked yesterday about just playing our game and not worrying about the team that we're playing – just making sure we're working towards executing the things that we want. 

"We acknowledge the fact that there's going to be mistakes made, we're going to get burned and things will go the other team's way. That's just what preseason hockey's about is to iron out those pieces, so that when league play starts we're ready to roll."

One thing is for sure as they head into exhibition – the group is ready for game action.

"Our new players have added a lot of energy to the room this past two weeks," said Leeming. "The compete level's high. That was part of the recruitment process, what we wanted from them. And they're awesome kids. 

"I think this past week and half here we've had a lot of fun together. We love the compete level, energy and the pace that they've brought every day at practice this year."

The Griffins enter the season with 17 returning players and are buoyed by the healthy return of Mila Verbicky from an injury that cost her half the 2022-23 season.

"We lost Mila halfway through last year and she's been back, and looks like she's back in proper form, so she's a great addition," said Leeming. "We saw a lot of growth from some of our first and second years who are now into their second and third year. Kori (Paterson) and Allee (Isley) had a strong season last year, Claire Hobbs has improved again. Those are big pieces for us moving forward. 

"On the back end, we've got Syd Hughson and (Sydney) Olsen, Robyn Short – they've all taken their game to the next level for us. And same in net with (Brianna) Sank, Johnny (Lindsey Johnson) and Brooke (Fawcett)."

The Griffins are set to play seven preseason games before their Canada West season-opening series against Calgary Sept. 29-30, the latter their home opener (5 p.m., Downtown Community Arena, Canada West TV).

Find their full schedule HERE