With the new academic year in full swing, the NAIT Ooks men’s hockey team is ready to drop the puck on a new season. They open their season Friday, October 13, on the road against the SAIT Trojans. Their counterparts, the Ooks women’s hockey team started their season on Friday, October 6, dropping the first of a back-to-back against the SAIT Trojans by a score of 3-2. They followed it up by shutting out the Medicine Hat Rattlers on October 7.
After falling short of an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) title in the 2022-23 season, the men’s team had a busy offseason, adding nine recruits to the squad. Of the nine, five are forwards, three are defensemen and one is a goaltender. According to NAIT Athletics, the recruits hail from various leagues across the country. Two of the newcomers, winger Ty Yoder and defenseman Noah Lamb, have both previously played for the Western Hockey League’s Victoria Royals and bring at least 50 games of experience from Major Junior. This experience will be invaluable on and off the ice for a team looking to go all the way this year.
Head Coach Scott Fellnermayr said the addition of McCoy Bidewell will add to the team’s strength in goal, as Bidwell sports a save percentage greater than .900 in six of his eight past seasons. The team added several new forwards, including Keegan Tiringer, who led the ACAC in goals for the 2021-22 season and finished 2022-23 with 20 points. Ethan Leyer scored 37 points in 51 games in the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, and Ty Whitford and Jackson Hassman add a physical element to the roster. Both players have a scoring touch; Whitford scored 40 points in 52 games last year, and Hassman scored 37. With these numerous roster changes, the men’s team has a good chance of replicating or exceeding their results from last season.
The women’s team also fell short of an ACACtitle in 2022-2023. During the offseason, they added six recruits to the team while losing forward Cass Lyttle to graduation. Of these six, three are forwards, two are on defense and one is a goaltender. According to NAIT Athletics, the recruits hail from leagues on both sides of the border. Forward Grace Flanagan put up 16 points in 22 games last season, 13 of those being assists highlighting her playmaking abilities. Kamryn Aebly, another forward, recorded 12 points in 30 games in 2022-23.
In the crease, goaltender Aurora Von Wormer posted a .907 save percentage and a 2.50 goals-against average last season. Her addition further solidifies the goaltending position with fellow goaltenders Eva Derechy and Kaitlyn Slator. The article states that the new talent combined with last year’s team will help as they strive for a championship this season. You can catch Ooks hockey action all season long in person or on ACAC TV or Telus Optik channel 1998.