Off to a solid start in her second season, Isley leads Griffins vs. Huskies this weekend

Allee Isley, posing on the team's media day in August, is leading the Griffins in scoring (Jefferson Hagen photo).
Allee Isley, posing on the team's media day in August, is leading the Griffins in scoring (Jefferson Hagen photo).

Jason Hills
For MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON — Making the jump to the U SPORTS level can be daunting, but Allee Isley showed last year that she was up for the challenge.

Now she wants to take her game to another level with the MacEwan Griffins.

After finishing third in team scoring, the second-year forward from Vermillion is off to a great start with two points (1g, 1a) in two games to start the 2023-24 Canada West season and will face the University of Saskatchewan Huskies this weekend (Friday 7 p.m. and Saturday, 3 p.m.) at the Downtown Community Arena (both Canada West TV).

"My big focus this year was to start off the year strong. I started off in that rookie slump," said Isley.

"It's such a big jump. It's such a faster league, and it took some time to find my footing in the league, and I'm still finding my footing completely, but my first year went better than expected, and I just want to build from it this year."

Isley finished with 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 26 games for the Griffins, but she had to go through some rookie woes before settling in.

Last year, Isley played in the first two games and then was a healthy scratch for the next three.

But when Isley returned to the lineup, she earned her first-career point in a 4-2 win over the Mount Royal Cougars, and would score three points over the next five games.

Isley scored her first-career U Sports goal on Jan.13 in a 3-1 win over the Regina Cougars and finished her rookie season with a goal in the final game of the year against the Calgary Dinos.

"I had to get used to juggling school and hockey, and it was hard in the beginning, but I got over that hump," said Isley.

"I also had to figure out my role as a rookie on the team, and what I needed to do. That takes time, but I was able to push through and I felt I beat my own expectations as a rookie."

There is a term in sports called the "Sophomore Slump". Isley's heard, and all athletes definitely want to avoid it, and Isley knows there can be ups and downs through the course of a season, because she experienced that in her rookie year, but her biggest focus is to bring that consistency night in and night out for the Griffins this year.

"There are times where the puck just won't go in, but you always have to continue to play the game the right way," said Isley, who is earning her Bachelor of Science degree.

"This year, I've really emphasized focusing on staying on top of my school work. When things pile up, the stress can hit you, and your brain isn't where it needs to be. I'm really trying to stay organized and do all the little things right."

When Isley was recruited to MacEwan, she was recruited by former head coach Lindsay McAlpine, who moved into the Associate Director of Athletics role.

Sometimes when a new head coach takes over, there can be lots of changes on and off the ice, but Griffins head coach Chris Leeming has been impressed with what Isley has brought to the forefront in her short time with the Griffins.

"She's got great vision, and she manages the puck well on the offensive side of the game. She's a great kid, who brings a lot of enthusiasm and positive energy to the locker room," said Leeming.
"She loves to shoot the puck, and she knows where to go with the puck, and she's got great chemistry with her linemates (Kori) Paterson and (Claire) Hobbs."

When Isley first joined the Griffins, she wanted to do whatever it took to earn more ice-time.

Despite being a goal scorer and point producer throughout her career, she accepted a checking line role in the early stages of her rookie campaign.

But both her and the Griffins coaching staff knew that wasn't the best fit for her, and once given the chance to be put in a more offensive role, Isley didn't let that opportunity slip away.

"I tried my best in that checking role. I don't have the skating speed, but I realized I had to speed up my game in other areas," said Isley.

"It's all those little things. Make quicker passes, work harder and get my shot off quicker. Just overall, think the game quicker.

"He (Leeming) gave everyone a fair shot. It was scary at first. I didn't know if he would like my game or not, because he didn't recruit me, but after giving everyone a shot, it ended up working out for me, and I couldn't be happier."