By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
Inspired by Tyler Steenbergen’s epic late-game heroics that lifted Team Canada over Team Sweden earlier in the week at the World Junior Championship, the Strathmore A Storm nearly pulled out a comeback of equal proportions during the annual Strathmore Minor Hockey Association novice tournament Jan. 5-7 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Trailing by one in the dying minutes, the Storm put one past the Spruce Grove goaltender to tie it 4-4 and send it to a six-man shootout.
Opting to shoot second, the Storm popped a pair in through their first five shooters. Needing a goal to send it to an extra round, the Storm couldn’t come through.
“The kids were obviously really excited after the World Junior final and related to that all weekend. After they lost, you could hear their little hearts break, but it was a good experience and they learned a lot. It would have been nice to win it on home ice, but hopefully this makes them stronger,” said Storm Head Coach Paul Kautz.
The Storm opened the weekend with a 10-0 statement win over Bow Valley Black Jan. 5 at the Strathmore Family Centre Gold Arena. They advanced to the finals by clipping Crossfield 7-4 that same evening at the Standard Arena.
There’s nothing like a few pre-tourney cancellations to throw the volunteer schedule out of whack. Three teams that were late to register were forced to pull out at the last second due to prior commitments.
“It turned out to be fine in the end. There were a couple games added to the B and D division, so we managed to pull everything off and not have teams short on games,” said Strathmore Minor Hockey Association President Natalie Haslund.
In the E Division, the Strathmore Storm Black dusted off the Blackfoot Chiefs 11-2 in their tourney opener Jan. 5 at Standard Arena. In the semis, the Storm fell in a close one to the Chestermere Lakers White 4-3 in Standard, dropping down to the B side, where they met the Taber Oil Kings in the finale. The Oil Kings proved to be too powerful, as they calmed the Storm 11-4.
The Storm B squad was one of those teams that enjoyed the extra ice time. After being slighted 2-1 by the Whitemud West program Jan. 5 at the Gold rink, the Storm bounced back by blasting the Southwest Cougars 6-1 later that evening in Standard. The Storm extracted some revenge over Whitemud Jan. 6 with a simple 3-1 victory. Playing in their bonus game, the Storm was blanked 12-0 by Red Deer.
The other Storm team in division E got off to a rough start with a 19-0 loss to the Blackfalds Bulldogs Jan. 5 at the Gold Arena. The following day, the Midnapore Mavericks got the best of the Storm 8-5 at the Blue Arena. The Storm wrapped up their tournament on a positive note by downing the Blackfoot Chiefs 11-5 at the Hussar Arena.
Despite the pool changes, the Storm out of group D still only appeared in three games. They dropped their opener 6-3 to the Trails West Wolves Jan. 6 at the Blue Arena. Playing in Hussar the following day, the Storm brushed back the Red Deer Go Dodge 7-3. In their tourney finale, the Storm were blanked 4-0 by the Crowfoot Coyotes.
The Storm in pool C was the other local team to get blanked in its opener, when they lost 7-0 to the Airdrie Minor Hockey Association Jan. 5 at the Gold Arena. Things didn’t get better from there, as they were on the wrong end of a 13-3 decision to the McKnight Snipers. They bounced back Jan. 6 to keep it close with the Calgary Saints, but still lost 4-2.