Women’s hockey championship rekindles rivalry between coaches and long-time friends
A friendly but fierce rivalry will be reignited tonight when the NAIT Ooks women’s hockey team faces off against the Grant MacEwan University Griffins in the best-of-five Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) Championship.
NAIT head coach Deanna Iwanicka and MacEwan head coach Lindsay McAlpine are long-time friends, having played hockey together - and against one another - as teenagers. They were later teammates on the University of Alberta Pandas and for the past three summers have operated a popular hockey school together.
“There is a personal connection here,” said Iwanicka, “which in sport creates a compelling competition.”
To add to the rivalry, this is the first time in the 14-year history of the ACAC that the two women’s teams will meet in the finals. Grant Mac has the No. 1 scorer in the league (Sasha Lutz) while NAIT has the second (Sherri Bowles).
“Winning the ACAC is the Olympic gold medal for these players,” said Iwanicka. “The rivalry between Grant Mac and NAIT women’s hockey is relatively comparable to Team USA and Team Canada.”
After winning the ACAC championship in 2012-13, the NAIT Ooks women’s team finished the 2013-14 season in second place to Grant MacEwan. In the recent semi-finals, NAIT swept the Red Deer Queens in the best of three series.
“I am so proud of our women’s hockey team on making a second consecutive appearance at the ACAC Championship,” said Linda Henderson, director of NAIT athletics. “The team is such a cohesive and skilled group of student-athletes that work hard day in and day out, both on the ice and in the classroom. They have confidence in each other and they compete every time they step on the ice.”
The game schedule is as follows:
Friday, Feb. 21, 8:15 p.m., Confederation Arena
Saturday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m., Confederation Arena
Friday, Feb. 28, 8:15 p.m., NAIT Arena
Saturday, March 1, 2 p.m., NAIT Arena (if necessary)
Sunday, March 2, 8:15 p.m., NAIT Arena (if necessary)
The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and trades. With more than 60,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads are essential to Alberta’s prosperity. Known for hands-on, technology-based learning, NAIT engages with business and industry in applied research and innovation and provides corporate training around the world. Recognized as one of Alberta’s top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.
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