By Tyler Lowey, Times Reporter
Some time away from the rink spent with family and friends looked to pay off for Wheatland Athletic Association hockey players.
The Wheatland Chiefs picked up right where they left off following the near two-week break. They welcomed 2018 with a 5-3 victory over the Okotoks Oilers Green (1-20-1) Jan. 5 at Hussar Arena.
Coming on strong late, the local double-A midget team closed out the game with five consecutive goals.
The following evening was a bit more difficult of a situation to handle, as the Chiefs and Olds Grizzlys exchanged five goals in the opening 20.
Three unanswered goals in the middle frame allowed the Chiefs to seize control. Cole Berg, Stran Red Crow and Jayden Hendricks contributed and continued to spread out the goal-scoring responsibility.
Rycroft allowed one to sneak past him in the third, but shut the door the remainder of the way with his 27 saves for his 10th win.
Only one game on tap for the Chiefs (15-7-2) this weekend, as they head to the Kinplex I arena Jan. 13 in Medicine Hat to take on the Hounds (11-9-0). The Chiefs won’t play their first game of 2018 at the Strathmore Family Centre until Jan. 27.
After a busy first two periods, the Wheatland Braves were able to right the ship and hang on to the 4-3 win over the Lethbridge Hurricanes White (12-6-3) Jan. 5 at the Adams Ice Centre.
Jace Koole netted a pair, while Nash Wassing and Garrin Gosling chipped in on the scoring.
After owning the first half of the schedule, the local double-A peewee team (14-11-0) hit a snag in December and were getting outplayed quite regularly.
Matthew Dovichak made 34 saves for his sixth win of the year.
It’s a copycat schedule for the Braves this weekend, as they also only play one road game in Medicine Hat Jan. 14 against the Hounds (19-0-1). The Braves won’t appear at the Family Centre until March 3 when they host the Central Alberta Selects (10-9-0).
Warriors torch Suns
The Wheatland Warriors blew the doors off their 2018 opener, when they blasted the 3-17-1 Taber Golden Suns 7-0 Jan. 5 at the Taber Community Arena.
Leading the way was Brayden Ledrew with two goals and two assists, while Brandon McGillvary registered two goals and one assist, and Jarred Schrock supplied one goal and two helpers. Lachlan Stewart and Domenic Ficaccio both scored one goal each. Corey Ross stopped all 18 shots for his first clean slate of the season.
The same offensive explosion wasn’t there on Jan. 7, when the Okotoks Oilers (12-5-4) doubled up the Warriors 4-2 at Murray Arena.
Ledrew and Ficaccio factored in on the scoring, while Dylan Fries-Abel made 34 saves between the pipes.
Another pair of games awaits the local double-A bantam team (8-12-2) on the weekend, as they head to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes (12-6-3) at the Henderson Ice Centre. Returning home for the first time in the New Year, the Warriors will welcome the Red Deer Ramada Inn (5-15-1) Jan. 14 at the Family Centre. Puck drop is set for 1:30 p.m.