Like peanut butter and jam

Chantal Ricker (left) and Jillian MacWilliam (right) celebrate an early season goal.  Photo courtesy Matthew Jacula
Chantal Ricker (left) and Jillian MacWilliam (right) celebrate an early season goal. Photo courtesy Matthew Jacula

by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips

Jeopardy ACAC style.

Name two things that DO NOT go good together?

Toothpaste and Orange Juice. Hair dryers and bathtubs. Horror movie and bedtime.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Stanley Cup. Chantal Ricker and Jillian MacWilliam.

Hold a second?

Ricker and MacWilliam go great together like peanut butter and jam as a high-scoring duo for the MacEwan Griffins women's hockey team.

Such was not the case a few years ago though.

"We played against each other in Midget and we absolutely hated each other," admits Ricker, 20. "We were both the top scorers for our respective teams. Me with the Calgary Fire and her with Sherwood Park. We always got into each other's faces and we were always taking draws against each other."

Both players graduated from their respective high schools the same year and then both signed on the dotted line to play for the Griffins starting 2016-2017.

"I knew that we would be playing together," recalls Ricker. "But I had no clue what would happen next."

She elaborates.

Chantel Ricker (#13), Forward, MacEwan Griffins

"My dad was helping me move into the house that I would be living in. All I knew, was that I would be living with five other roommates. I was walking up the stairs with all of my bags and I looked over to the right and there, sitting in the living room, was Jillian (MacWilliam)!

"We kind of looked at each other awkwardly and we both said at the same time, "Hey". I remember looking at my dad and saying, "Oh shit!"

"Within that first week we, Jillian and me, were making fun of the fact that we had hated each other in Midgets and we were now laughing about it. We became best friends."

The duo would play on the same line and be an integral part of Griffins back-to-back Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women's hockey titles.

Ricker, a 5-foot-9 forward, totaled 3 goals and 7 assists in 24 games along with a team-high 32 penalty minutes in her freshman campaign. A total of 13 points would come her way in 2017-2018 with 10 goals and three assists in 19 appearances. She cut her penalty minutes down to 13.

Ricker would be named ACAC Second Team Conference last year.

Jill MacWilliam (#6), Forward, MacEwan Griffins

MacWilliam, standing 5-foot-2, would record 6 goals and 5 assists in 20 games during her rookie season while last year she accumulated 3 goals and 6 assists in 19 contests.

Prior to facing off against MacWilliam in Midget-category hockey, Ricker had played on boys teams.

Of the shift over, she remembers: "It was huge. Going from boys...where I felt discluded and couldn't hang out with the guys after games to the girls, where you were doing everything together and you feel included."

"The skill level was different though. It was much more physical playing boy's hockey, which I loved. It took me a couple of years to realize that I couldn't hit anymore...hit hard with no body checks at centre ice."

With various hockey scholarship offers, Ricker said she selected MacEwan, "Because it was closer to home (Calgary) and I loved coach Lindsay (MacAlpine)."

She continues: "It has been an amazing time. I know a lot of people say that the best years of your life and that you should cherish them. I am cherishing them as our team is like a family and I couldn't ask for anything else."

But like most family units, there comes a time when one must leave the nest and spread their wings.

"When I graduate, I want to become either a fire fighter or police officer. My dad always says that they are some of the most dangerous jobs but I like helping people. There is a team aspect and you are not always sitting behind a desk."

The Griffins are currently in second place in the five-team ACAC women's hockey conference, sporting a record of 10 wins 3 losses with 38 goals for and 15 goals against.

NAIT Ooks lead the pack with 10 wins 2 losses 1 overtime loss with 36 goals for and 21 goals against.

Ricker has 7 goals and 8 assists in 14 games to date. MacWilliam, out with an injury, has 1 goal and 7 assists, suiting up in 10 games.