February 22, 2014, Edmonton, AB (ISN) – 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)