By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
Even after a win, Wheatland Braves Head Coach Keith Klemmensen typically stays grounded; never overly amused with one win in the middle of the season and often quick to point out areas of the game where his team can improve.
But after the local double-A peewee team swept a weekend series with the Cranbrook BP Wings, Klemmensen was speechless and sprightly.
“It’s always good to win, but it was really good to see our progress that we have made over the past two weeks; the improvement in the team game, our effort and unselfishness was really something to see over the past two games,” said Klemmensen.
The Braves (12-6-0) had fallen on hard times in the South Central Alberta Hockey League lately. Following their six-game winning streak in late October, the team hit a mini three-game slide in the middle of November.
Arriving as an early Christmas present, the Braves enjoyed a week off two weekends ago, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“These 11- and 12-year-old kids were going solid for three months. It was a heavy schedule and they needed some time off to be honest,” said Klemmensen. “The break worked out pretty good for us.”
Playing their first game since Nov. 19, the Braves thrashed the 4-9-1 Wings 7-2 Dec. 1 at Hussar Arena.
Conner Radke had himself a strong weekend as he scored twice and supplied one assist in the series opener. Luc Trevors netted one goal and two assists. Wyatt Yule, Aden Miller, Kolten Kuryk and Charles Goll supplied one goal each.
The Braves followed that performance up with a sound 6-1 victory the following afternoon at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Radke led the way once again with another two goal, one assist performance. Nolan Bell chipped in with one goal and one assist, while Yule, Nash Wassing and Goll registered one goal each. Colton Gabe recorded a pair of assists.
“The goaltending was also excellent this weekend,” said Klemmensen. “Any time you get goaltending like we did, you always have a chance to win.”
In the first game of the series, Connor White was solid stopping 23 shots to push his record to 7-2-0. Matthew Dovichak one-upped his teammate with 34 saves in the weekend cap for his fifth win.
The Braves will look to keep their solid play going with three games this weekend. First, they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes Red (11-3-3) Dec. 8 at the Adams Ice Centre. The Braves will return home Dec. 9 (4:45 p.m.) for a rematch with the Hurricanes, before finishing things up in Okotoks against the Oilers Green (7-6-2) Dec. 10 at Murray Arena.
The Wheatland Chiefs split a pair of home games last weekend.
Playing at Hussar Arena Dec. 2, the local double-A midget team was clipped 2-1 by the Medicine Hat Hounds (7-7-0).
All the scoring was done in the second period, as Brady Skiffington answered the Hounds opening goal, with assists going to Brian Butland and A.J. Kusu.
The deadlock didn’t last long, as Dax Wandler netted the winner just after the midway mark on the power play.
Ethan Rycroft made 28 saves in the loss.
Returning to the Strathmore Family Centre the following afternoon, the Chiefs (9-6-2) pulled out the 6-4 decision over the Red Deer Elks (5-11-0).
Mitch Desserre and Jayden Hendricks scored in the second period, as the Chiefs closed out the final frame with four goals. Cole Berg supplied a pair, with singles coming from Stran Red Crow and Lucas Muenchrath.
Riley Stovka stopped 19 pucks for his third win.
The Chiefs are all over the place this weekend, as they play three games in three different arenas.
On Dec. 8, the Chiefs will host the team immediately below them in the Southern Division, the Taber Golden Suns (8-4-4) at Hussar Arena (7:30 p.m.). That will be followed up with an evening affair in Red Deer at Collicutt Centre Arena against the CanPro (2-8-4). Wrapping up the weekend, the Chiefs will host the Foothills Bisons (1-15-0) Dec. 10 (1:30 p.m.) at the Family Centre.
Warriors go to
The Wheatland Warriors took a break from the SCAHL last weekend for a tournament in Lethbridge at the new ATB Centre.
The bantam tourney got off to a great start, as the Warriors thumped their SCAHL rival Okotoks Oilers 4-1. Brandon McGillvary and Brayden Ledrew teamed up for the scoring.
The Warriors followed that up with a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Rangers, despite outshooting them 16-12. Joel Romano netted the lone goal.
In their final round robin game, the Warriors earned the rights to a semifinal game after handling the Parkland Athletic Club Timberwolves 6-4.
Domenic Ficaccio netted a pair and Spencer Tower deflected in the winner. Other goals came from Jarred Schrock, a wrap-around from Ray Warrack and a power play marker from Philip Raycroft.
In the semis early in the morning Dec. 2, the Warriors were downed in a barnburner, losing 6-5 to the eventual champion Sturgeon Sting.
The Warriors (6-9-2) will return to SCAHL action Dec. 10 when they travel to the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Centre to take on the Southern Division-leading Foothills Bisons (12-4-1) at 1:45 p.m.