NAX U18 Prep blueliner Checknita bringing mobility, strong defensive game to Griffins

Aspen Checknita is a fast, strong defender who will help MacEwan's blue line both offensively and defensively.
Aspen Checknita is a fast, strong defender who will help MacEwan's blue line both offensively and defensively.

Jefferson Hagen
MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – With strong skating ability and compete, the latest recruit for the MacEwan women's hockey team has great potential to be a defensive rock for the Griffins at the Canada West level.

Aspen Checknita, who will become a U SPORTS student-athlete in MacEwan's Arts program in 2024-25, can defend at an elite level as she did for the NAX U18 Prep squad this past season, playing in 29 games as a key member of the Devon, Alta.-based academy's blueline.

"Watching her play, she's been an effective penalty killer with how aggressively she's been able to defend," said Griffins head coach Chris Leeming. "That's one thing I've noticed getting to know her and watching her play is she just defends so well away from the puck.

"She's in your face, doesn't give up a lot of time and space in the defensive zone and with her skating ability, she's able to take away time and space and shut down offensive attempts from the other team."

Checknita had a goal and three points for NAX this past season, but has proven she can produce prolific offense, too, recording 30 points in 26 games at the U18AA level in 2022-23 with the Sherwood Park Fury. For her efforts, she was named the Alberta Female Hockey League's top defenceman that season.

"I think she's got a lot of untapped potential," said Leeming. "She played U18AA her first two years of U18 and this year she went to NAX and got an opportunity to play at a higher level.

"She took on a new challenge at the next level, and I think that's going to translate well because she's got athletic potential."

The 5-foot-6 Sherwood Park product will also help the Griffins in transition as they work towards a collective goal of qualifying for the Canada West post-season for the first time.

"Aspen's skating ability and compete compliments the direction of our program's growth," said Leeming. "Without possession, she defends very well away from the puck by taking away options, which contributes to overall team defensive play. With possession, Aspen is able to transition pucks up ice as a result of her skating capacity. 

"Her overall athleticism and work ethic allow her to play a highly competitive style of game."