- Category: Sports
After the Strathmore Storm collapsed in the third period of their opening Midget A Provincial matchup, they regrouped and powered their way to the silver medal on home ice last weekend.
The Storm trailed the Seera Icemen 3-2 entering the third period of their opening game, when the wheels fell off. They went on to lose 7-2.
Needing to win to reach the semis, the Storm battled adversity, finishing round robin play 3-1.
In the final, it was a rematch against the Icemen, but once again, the Storm couldn’t find the edge they needed, losing 5-2 March 26 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“The boys were really excited to be playing in front of their home crowd all weekend,” said Storm head coach Doug Raycroft. “Having played six games in four days made it tough, but at the end of the day, it’s hard to beat any team when you are in the penalty box as much as we were.”
As much as Raycroft doesn’t want to lean on the officiating as an excuse, there was an obvious imbalance in the calls in the final. The Icemen received one minor penalty to the Storm’s 35 minutes in the sin bin.
Brian Butland Jr. cut the Icemen’s 2-0 lead in half at the 8:14 mark of the first period on a feed from Will Kathol and Parker Keer.
The Storm was behind the eight ball in the second, spending all but two minutes of the frame in the penalty box.
Ryan Leeper pulled the Storm within two in the third, when he scored at the 4:51 mark from Brandon Pederson.
“Obviously, at the time, it was a pretty defeating loss. We lost the opportunity that we fought so hard for all year,” said Storm captain Cort Armstrong. “Looking back now, it feels like a win. It was great to play these games at home, in front of the biggest crowds that we have seen all season. “
Playing so much of the final on the penalty kill, the Storm’s bench was shortened drastically after the semifinals against the Crowfoot Coyotes, when Chase Clayton was driven into the boards, snapping his ankle.
The Storm still hung on to the 8-2 win, but their lineup just wasn’t the same without Clayton.
“We really fought hard all weekend,” said Raycroft. “The boys believed that we could pull this off, it just sucks in the end coming so close and not winning.”
The Storm wrapped up their round robin play with wins over the Lomond Lakers (9-2) March 23, Red Deer Kings Energy Chiefs (3-2) March 24 and Vermilion Credit Union Tigers (7-3) March 25.
Jayden Hendricks finished with six goals and four assists, while Butland Jr. recorded five goals and five assists, tying for second in tournament scoring.
“We came a long way this season winning our league and making it this far in provincials,” said Raycroft. “I’m really proud of these guys and the way they handled themselves this season.”
- Category: Sports
After waiting nearly a month to win their zone championship, the Strathmore U19B Ice must have felt like they were playing rapid fire this past weekend in Lacombe during their provincial championships.
Despite playing five games over three days, the Ice were able to find enough energy to walk away with the silver medal.
The Ice was clipped 8-6 by Medicine Hat in the provincial final.
Becky Driver scored a pair of goals, while Darcie Weir, Keirsten Gron, Brooklyn Reinhart and Kennedy Elder supplied one goal each.
“We certainly weren’t a dominating team this season, but we played consistent ringette and were in every game. If we got a couple bounces go our way, we knew we would be hanging around by the end of the weekend,” said Ice head coach Sonny Warrack.
Medicine Hat came in ranked as the top seed, after skating through the regular season with just one loss, a 6-5 shave job by the Ice back in November.
“We played them three times in the regular season, so we knew we were in tough and that we had to play good in order to beat them,” said Warrack. “They had a deeper bench — their 17 skaters to our 11 — but we hung in there with them, we just couldn’t get the extra bounce or two we needed to push us over the top.”
In the semis, the Ice cooked Fort Saskatchewan 13-6. Weir scored eight goals, Driver and Brooklyn Reinhart each bagged a pair and Gron added a single.
“We were a little rusty, having only played 12 games in the past three weeks, but we were able to shake it off pretty quickly and get back up to speed again,” said Warrack.
Playing in the final round robin game, the Ice were slighted 6-5 by the Calgary Northwest Surge. Weir and Reinhart each sniped a pair and Driver chipped in with a single.
Against Lacombe, the Ice pulled out a 9-4 win courtesy of Weir and Driver supplying four goals apiece and Kennedy Elder adding the other.
The Ice opened the tourney with a bang, dismantling St. Albert 14-1. Elder scored six times, while Weir, Driver, Jemma Warrack, Gron and Reinhart chipped in offensively.
- Category: Sports
It was a winning weekend in Rockyford for Open C provincial ringette championships.
The host Rockyford Rush brought home the gold medal and provincial title, while the Rockyford Ringers snagged the bronze.
The Rush thumped the Calgary Storm 9-3 in the gold medal match.
“We were really prepared this year. We haven’t won provincials in a couple of years, so it felt nice to be back on top,” said Mallory Nelson, who finished her fourth season with the Rush.
The Rush dropped their opening game 7-6 to the Sherwood Park Double-Eh March 24, but ran the table all the way to the final, with a 5-2 win over Beaumont and a 9-2 victory against the Craze.
The round robin resulted in a three-way tie for first, so a 10-minute mini game took place where the Rush edged the Double-Eh 3-1, to take first place in the pool.
In the other pool, the Ringers were cruising along until they met their fellow Rockyford residents in the semifinals. The Rush slid past the Ringers 4-1.
In the bronze medal game, the Ringers downed the Double-Eh 9-2.
“The coolest part of this weekend was seeing that Rockyford was able to produce two adult teams for provincials. And then to have them both win, was extra special,” said Jill Kathol, a player on the Ringers.
The Ringers rolled through the round robin with a 9-3 win over Cochrarne, 7-4 victory against the Lacombe Kaos, and were clipped by the South Calgary Storm 3-2.
After the Ringers won their bronze, they sat in the stands and cheered on the Rush to gold. Following the medal ceremony, both ringette teams celebrated outside with a bon fire, toasting the weekend’s success.
The strong showing by the Rockyford clubs shouldn’t come as a surprise.
This season, playing in the Calgary Open Ringette Association, the Rush finished first and captured the CORA Calgary Classic tournament back in January. The Ringers played second fiddle all season, finishing second in league standings and second in the CORA Classic.
“It was nice to see both teams have success this weekend. For a lot of us, we have grown up around the Rockyford area together, so it was good to see everyone on top this weekend. We have a very talented group of girls here,” said Nelson.
- Category: Sports
Strathmore Silhouettes Head Coach
Six athletes of the Strathmore Silhouettes competitive gymnastics team have qualified to attend the 2017 Women’s Artistic Provincial Championships, which will be held in Fort McMurray, Alta. from April 6-9, 2017.
The six girls, ranging in age from 10-14, attended the Southern Zones Championships, which were held at the University of Calgary March 16-19. They competed in their age groups against clubs from across southern Alberta, hoping to earn a spot to Provincials.
This is the first time that all of the eligible Silhouettes athletes that competed at Southern Zones moved on to qualify to compete at Provincials.
Not only did they qualify, but a few of the athletes had some personal successes: Sophie Sanders, 13, earned silver medals on floor and beam, and placed fourth all-around; Aleigha McLean, 14, who travels from Three Hills three times a week to train with the Silhouettes, earned bronze medals on vault and beam, and placed fourth all-around; Eve Rehlau, 11, who travels from Rockyford, earned a gold medal for her beam routine, and took home a silver all-around medal.
“All six of these girls have been working very hard, and I’m extremely proud of them and happy that their hard work has paid off,” said Tara Smith, Silhouettes head coach.
- Category: Sports
Former Strathmore High School Spartan Aiden Anderson is fresh off competing at the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association curling national championship in Camrose.
Anderson curls with the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings, which hosted the nationals. They won their way in after they knocked off the NAIT Ooks to capture the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference title back in February.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they were involved in a three-team logjam for the final playoff spot. The tiebreaker didn’t kick in their favour, as they were left on the outside looking in, finishing fifth.
The Vikings downed the Ooks 14-4, lost to the Red Deer College 7-4, downed Olds College Broncos 7-4, edged the Lakeland College Rustlers 7-3, were doubled up by the Humber College Hawks 6-3, were clipped 9-6 by Fanshawe Falcons and slipped up 10-5 to Niagara College Nights.
- Category: Sports
The Midget AA provincial championships are underway at the Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks, as the Wheatland Chiefs vie for their first provincial championship in the franchise’s 25-year history.
“We have come so far, to finish the season off with a provincial title would be huge,” said Chiefs captain Ryan Bell. “This is such a great organization with a lot of great teams that have come before us. It would be nice to be the first team to bring the title back to Strathmore.”
The Chiefs clobbered the competition this season. Finishing the regular season at 31-2-3, with 207 goals for and 66 goals against, they captured the South division title in Medicine Hat and swept the Airdrie Lightning for the South Central Alberta Hockey League crown two weeks ago.
The provincials, featuring the host Okotoks Oilers Black, the Strathcona Warriors from the North Alberta Hockey League, the CBHA Rangers from the Calgary division and St. Albert Crusaders from the Edmonton division, got underway March 30.
“The boys are pretty fired up coming off the big win in Airdrie. Preparing for provincials, we wanted to keep them focused and get them on the ice as much as possible, staying in the flow of things before the tourney starts,” said Chiefs assistant coach Matt Gregory.
The Chiefs took on the Rangers in the first game of the tournament March 30. The Chiefs and Rangers met back on Feb. 17. The Chiefs doubled up the Rangers 6-3 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Out of the five teams competing this weekend, the Rangers have won the most provincial titles, with three. They captured the prize in 1980, 1992 and 2007.
“We have already been successful against two of the teams in provincials, so that gives us a bit of confidence heading into the tournament,” said Chiefs defenseman Scott Desserre.
March 31 sees the Chiefs play a double header; first, they battle the Crusaders at 12:30 p.m.
The Crusaders are searching for their first provincial title since winning it all back in 2009. They finished second in their division, going 19-11-2 with 116 goals for and 89 goals against in 32 games.
That same evening, the Chiefs tackle the hosts at 9:30 p.m.
“We have a big rivalry with the Okotoks team, so that should be a good game,” said Bell. “We really like the way the schedule has broken down. I think it’s a good thing that we play two games on the second day of the tournament against teams that are also playing two games that day.”
The Oilers lost 4-1 to the Chiefs back on Feb. 26 in Murray Arena.
“We got a pretty good idea about what Okotoks is like,” said Gregory. “They are a big, strong, physical team that should be a great test for us.”
The Chiefs close out round robin play against the Strathcona Warriors April 1.
The Warriors are also searching for their first provincial title and finished second in their division. They went 18-10-4 this season with 117 goals for and 87 goals against in 32 games.
“We don’t really look into other team’s records at this point,” said Gregory. “It’s provincials and everyone is coming from different leagues, so we have to go out there and do what we do best and see what happens at the end of the day.”
With no quarterfinals or semis, the top two teams coming out of the round robin will meet up in the gold medal game April 2 at 3 p.m. The bronze medal game is slated for 11:30 a.m. that same morning.
All games will be played out of the Pason Centennial Arena.
The Chiefs will be looking to keep the strong local hockey vibes going. Players on the Chiefs are well aware of the successful CFR Chemicals Bisons playoff run and the Strathmore Storm’s silver medal.
“We see how other teams are doing in the area and it makes us want to get out there and win just like the other programs,” said Bell. “Hopefully we can bring back a gold medal.”
They also know that they don’t have to deviate from the game plan that made them successful.
“If we play our game, stick to the plan that has been working for us all year, I think we will be fine in the end,” added Desserre.
- Category: Sports
Nobody saw the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings coming.
After finishing the regular season 14-15-5, the Oil Kings wouldn’t have even made the playoffs if they were in the South division.
Regardless of where they finished, or how they recorded 20 points fewer than the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons, the Oil Kings caught fire once the calendar turned to March and no one was able to slow them down in the playoffs.
“They were 100 per cent a different team than the one we saw in the regular season. You have to give credit to their players and coaching staff. We walked through them pretty easily in the regular season and for whatever reason, we couldn’t get past them in the playoffs,” said Bisons captain Brett Trentham. “They played a hell of a series and it was fun to be a part of.”
The Oil Kings skirted through the playoffs with series wins over the Maple Leaf Athletic Club Beverly Optimists, won in Game 5 against the No. 2 St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders and swept the division-winning Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings in the Alberta Midget Hockey League semifinals.
In the finals, they were able to knock off the favoured Bisons with stellar special team play.
The Oil Kings power play unit was anemic through the first three rounds, going four-for-37. Against the Bisons, they ratcheted up their play on the man advantage, converting seven times on 16 opportunities.
They scored twice on the power play in Game 4 March 26 at Sobeys Arena in Leduc, clinching the league title with a 3-1 win.
“We couldn’t stay out of the penalty box and we couldn’t find the back of the net on the power play when we needed it. That was the difference: they get two power play goals tonight and we lose by two. That was something we hoped to shore up, but they did a good job on their side making their special teams work,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry.
With the Oil Kings win and the Cariboo Cougars knocking off the Greater Vancouver Canadians in the B.C. Midget AAA Hockey League final, the Oil Kings advanced directly to the Telus Cup.
The Cougars are hosting the Telus Cup this year, meaning there would be no need to hold the Pacific championships, as the Alberta and B.C. teams already qualify for nationals.
The Telus Cup was one of the goals since day one for the Bisons. They were doing an excellent job short handed during their run through the South division, killing all 15 of the Calgary Buffaloes opportunities in the South final.
“We studied ourselves, worked on improvements in practice and went out and executed,” said Oil Kings head coach Taylor Harnett. “We found a way to beat them and were lucky to get pucks through. Once you get pucks through, anything can happen.”
As good as the Oil Kings power play turned out to be, their penalty kill was drastically better and steady throughout the course of the playoffs.
Allowing only one short-handed goal in 49 chances, the Oil Kings didn’t give the Bisons power play an inch all series. They were even lethal down a man.
They scored their second shorty of the playoffs 1:57 into the opening period, when Game 2 double-overtime hero Tyler Smithies picked off a pass deep in the Bisons zone and beat Ben Laidlaw short side.
The Oil Kings turned the neutral zone into a cement mixer, slowing down the Bisons team speed, not allowing them to set up their offence all series.
Following their Game 1 3-1 win in Strathmore March 19, the Oil Kings took a 2-0 stranglehold on the series with a 5-4 double-overtime win March 22 at Sobeys Arena.
With their backs against the wall, the Bisons played Game 3 in front of what felt like the entire Town of Strathmore March 24. Not only did fans line the boards around the arena, but the crowd also went a couple rows deep along the glass in sections.
“It was really uplifting hearing the ‘Go Bisons’ chants and hearing them cheer when we got a rush going,” said Bisons defenseman Landon Melzer. “At times it was nerve racking, looking up and seeing the huge crowd, but it was a really cool experience.”
Brandon Machado, who was incredibly ill the morning of Game 3, battled through his physical ailments and tipped in a slap-pass in double overtime from Melzer, extending the series.
“The guy missed school, laid in bed all day, didn’t eat and we weren’t sure he was going to be able to go tonight,” said Henry. “And then, to come out and play like that – there is no way to describe what he was able to pull off.”
For Machado, it was his third overtime-winning goal of the playoffs. His line with Trentham and Tarun Fizer was often the most dangerous in the finals.
“It was a do or die game,” said Machado. “I woke up and I wasn’t feeling great, but I didn’t want our team to go out like that, so I just made it a mental thing and got over it. I just wanted to put everything on the line.”
It would have been incredible to see what the Game 5 crowd would have looked like, especially with all the uncertainty surrounding the location of the Bisons next season.
“We wanted to make a deep run and go out on a bang in case this was the last season for the Bisons in Strathmore,” said Trentham. “It’s a tough way to go out. At the end of the day, they won and we lost. It sucks, but that’s how life goes.”
If this marks the end of the 24-year run with the Bisons in Strathmore, they definitely treated the town to an incredible regular season and thrilling post season run.
“I’m real proud of this team. We had a great year, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity; it’s all about growing up. I think some guys really grew up and I think that’s going to help them moving on,” said Henry. “Our goal isn’t always what we do at the time, but what we leave behind (and) what do they take with them. I’m really proud of this group.”
- Category: Sports
It was a banner year for the Zone 2 U19A ringette team that was thrown together on a whim before the season, and it nearly ended in a Western Canadian Ringette championship.
Representing the province of Alberta, Zone 2 reached the finals, losing to team Saskatchewan 5-2 March 25 at Gateway Red Arena in Winnipeg.
“It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that we are the second best team in all of Western Canada,” said Zone 2 head coach Steve Rosenberg. “Saskatchewan was the favourite going in and they were a very strong team. Ultimately, we couldn’t get past them, but that’s fine with us. It was an incredible run for a team in its first year.”
Local product Lauryn Eitzen netted a goal in the final.
Wheatland County was well represented on the Zone 2 team: Taneil Kalbhen and Jessica Clyne are from Rockyford, and Ashley LeCavalier and Eitzen are Strathmore products.
Kalbhen dominated the tournament: she led Westerns with 13 goals and 16 points in six games.
“It was an exciting tournament to be a part of,” said Kalbhen. “I’m not even that upset that we didn’t win. It was a great experience and we came so far as a team.”
For her efforts, Kalbhen was named to the tournament all-star team, receiving a commemorative jersey, along with the five other players selected.
Zone 2 picked up other awards during the skills competition, when Danielle Rosenberg won the fastest skater competition and Team Alberta won the overall skills competition.
Team Alberta needed overtime to reach the gold medal game, when they downed the host East End Transcona Wings 9-8 in the semis. Kalbhen sniped four goals and Clyne supplied two assists.
In their final round robin game, Alberta fell 4-1 to Saskatchewan. Kalbhen netted the only goal for Alberta.
Alberta started Westerns with a daunting schedule, taking on the host province and host team in a double header on the first day of competition.
They opened with a 5-2 win over team Manitoba. Kalbhen scored once and Clyne supplied one goal and one assist, and LeCavalier chipped in with one helper.
Alberta doubled up on the host Wings 8-4 later that afternoon. Kalbhen buried five goals, Clyne registered one of each and LeCavalier added another assist.
Alberta picked up a 6-3 win over team B.C. March 24. Kalbhen scored a pair, Clyne finished with a goal and an assist, and LeCavalier recorded three assists.
“It was always our goal to make it to Westerns,” said Kalbhen. “It was fun to take it as far as we did. We always stuck together and we will be friends forever because of this.”
Westerns wraps up a season that saw Zone 2 capture gold at the Lonnie Krahn tournament in Calgary, gold in a Sherwood Park tournament and gold in the Airdrie Ring of Fire tournament.
- Category: Sports
“We’re not done yet.”
That was Wheatland Chiefs forward Chayse Hnatowich’s message after sweeping the Airdrie Lighting 2-0 in the South Central Alberta Hockey League best-of-three final.
The local double-A midget team wrapped up their third straight league title by grounding the Lightning 3-1 March 18 at the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
“This is a great feeling. They deserve everything they’ve worked for this year,” said Chiefs head coach Evan Barlow.
The framework for the league title began in the first period in Game 2 when, for the second straight game, the Lightning jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
The Lightning were a bit of a surprise to come out of the North division and tried to wear down the Chiefs defensive core early by dumping the puck in and following it up with a suppressing forecheck.
One-goal leads don’t faze the high-octane Chiefs. Even without their captain Ryan Bell, who was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for colliding knee-on-knee with Jordan Hodzic, the Chiefs battled back.
Hnatowich launched a backhander from a sharp angle, as the rebound cascaded out to Riley Romashenko, who dished the puck into the open net at the 3:16 mark of the second frame.
Building off that momentum, Romashenko jammed a Lightning clearing attempt along the half-wall, created some space and sent a sweet feed over to Rob Butterwick at the side of the net for the easy tap-in.
In the first period, Brett LeGrandeur took a five-minute major for tripping, sending the Chiefs to a lengthy power play.
Typically a recipe for disaster, the Chiefs were unable to muster any goals. Then, with the Lightning on the five-minute power play for Bell’s major, the Chiefs delivered the dagger.
Brady Skiffington intercepted Lightning goaltender Justin Fedoruk’s breakout pass from behind the net and jammed it in on his second crack at it with 58 seconds remaining on the Bell infraction.
Two goals of support feels like overkill on insurance when Ty Tarvyd is in net. The Chiefs puck-stopper hasn’t lost a game all year, and slammed the door shut in the finals after allowing a puck to squeak past him in the first periods of each game.
“We have a lot of confidence in Tarvyd and he exudes when he is out there,” said Barlow. “As a tandem, we feel like both of our goalies are the best in the league when you look at the numbers. We can throw either one of them out there with the most confidence.”
The Lightning had a glimmer of hope with 8:31 remaining in the third when Isaac Benoit reached for a puck on the penalty kill and got called for tripping, sending Airdrie to the five-on-three for 1:30, but the Chiefs penalty kill unit snuffed them out.
“Killing big penalties really brings us together and help get us going. The five minute kill and the ones at the end of the game were huge for us,” said Romashenko.
Following the final horn, the players celebrated capturing their second banner in the past two weeks, and were joined by family and friends on the ice.
Game 1 followed a similar script March 17 at the Strathmore Family Centre in front of a strong crowd featuring several alumni players. The Lightning scored first, but the Chiefs powered back, led by Hnatowich’s three-point performance.
First he helped set up Lucas Muenchrath to even the score just prior to the first intermission, and then found the back of the net after gaining the zone with a full head of steam five minutes into the second.
The degree of difficulty on Romashenko’s marker in the third was off the charts. Taking a pass from Hnatowich behind the net in his skates, in one motion, he kicked the puck up to his stick, made a quick move to the right and shovelled in a backhand, all while being crosschecked to the ground.
Butterwick supplied a power play goal halfway through the third from Benoit and Romashenko to sink the Lightning.
In doing so, the Chiefs advance to provincials for the third straight year, as they search for the first provincial title in the organization’s 25-year history.
Provincials kick off March 30 in Okotoks.
- Category: Sports
The Rocky Mountain Raiders fell one game short of completing the double championship season.
After they captured the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament title back on New Year’s Day, the St. Albert Slash shut the Raiders out 2-0 March 19 during the Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League provincials last weekend at the Scott Seaman Sports Rink in Okotoks.
“St. Albert was the top team in the league all year. We went 0-6 against them this season, but were in both games during provincials,” said Raiders head coach Paul Pozzi.
The Raiders outshot the Slash 36-20, but ran into a hot goalie in Camryn Drever.
“We threw everything including the kitchen sink at her, but it wasn’t enough that night,” said Pozzi.
The Raiders opened provincials with a 3-0 blanking of the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs March 17.
That evening, they followed it up by crushing the Calgary Fire 8-1. Strathmore product Hailey McCallum picked up an assist on the game-winning goal at the 7:54 mark of the first period.
In their final round robin game, the Raiders trimmed the Slash 3-2 March 18.
McCallum finished the season with eight goals and 28 points in 32 games. Langdon product Emma Borbandy registered one goal and 10 assists in 32 games.
“Hailey has lots of skill, [she’s] a great skater and possesses an excellent shot. Hopefully we see her in a college uniform somewhere next year. Emma is one of our more solid defensemen. She is well rounded and we are looking forward to having her back next year,” said Pozzi. “They are two really great kids.”
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Skating Club held their annual Fire on Ice figure skating gala March 17 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Figure skaters aged between five and 22 got the chance to show off the programs and routines they have been working on all season to their families and friends.
It was the first gala event since their Christmas show.
Skaters went out for individual skates, pair skates and group skates, with no one performing more than twice.
The club welcomed guest skater Jane Gray to the ice. Gray was born in Calgary and raised in Canmore; she has been figure skating for more than 16 years. She is a four-time Alberta senior women’s champion and recently placed 14th during the senior Canadian Nationals in Ottawa.
During the Calgary Winter Invitational March 10-12, Club skater Tamzyn Musselman placed second in the U13 division at the STAR 4 level.
Rylee Wilson captured bronze for an interpretive skate during the North STARSkate Invitational in St. Albert March 3-5. This is her 13th year of skating and she competes at a STAR 9 level.
The club will be competing in the STARSkate Championships this weekend in Airdrie. The Chinook Open takes place the following weekend in Lethbridge.
- Category: Sports
The Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons three-peated as Chrysler division champs, finishing off the Calgary Buffaloes in a dramatic Game 4 of the Alberta Midget Hockey League semifinals.
With 24.6 seconds remaining in regulation, the Buffs were dreaming of a Game 5 on home ice, when Bisons head coach Sandy Henry called a time out.
The Buffs just iced the puck, with the faceoff coming to the right of Taylor Gauthier.
“The play was to win the faceoff, move the puck around the wall and get something on net,” said Strathmore product Cole Clayton.
After the faceoff, the puck worked its way behind the net, where Jackson Salt was jamming away, trying to free it up. From there, the puck squirted to the left half-wall, and Zach Huber and Peyton Krebs freed it, with valuable seconds bleeding from the clock. Krebs hit Clayton on the blue line with less than 10 seconds remaining.
“I don’t know how he thought to wait and fake around him. If that was me, I probably would have shot it into the guy’s shin pads,” said Bisons captain Brett Trentham.
Similar to Tyson Terretta’s Game 3 double-overtime winner, Clayton patiently waited for the blitzing shot blocker to slide past him before shooting on net.
Along its path to the twine, Salt made contact with it, striking it down and into the back of the net with 5.5 seconds remaining.
The packed Strathmore Family Centre exploded as the Bisons bench went nuts.
“You could feel waves of sound at that point. It was crazy in there tonight,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry.
It only made sense that those two teams were destined for overtime.
Each game was a one-goal game, with great play making and even greater goaltending.
Gauthier was the 10th pick by the Prince George Cougars during the 2016 WHL draft, but he was outplayed by the AJHL Canmore Eagles prospect, Ben Laidlaw.
Time after time, he found a way to come up with huge saves against the league’s top offence, frustrating them at crucial moments. He finished the series with a 1.50 goals against average and a .961 save percentage, recorded 146 saves (36.5 saves per game) and out-duelled one of the top young goaltending prospects in Western Canada.
“If you put too much pressure on yourself, you’re probably going to lose,” said Laidlaw. “I just needed to focus on stopping the next one, then the next one and then the next one. It also helps when you’re on a team like this. I’m pretty confident in this group and that they are going to come out on top, even when we are down with five seconds left.”
Laidlaw was the main reason the Buffs went 0-for-15 on the power play in the series, including 50 seconds of a five-on-three power play in the second period.
“The guy is so composed. I’ve never seen that in a guy. There’s no rattle, but big battle. It’s tough to find guys that have both like that. He’s a special, special kid,” said Henry.
The Bisons were 3-0 in overtime this playoffs heading into the Game 4 extra frames, and 48 hours removed from another thrilling double-overtime victory at the Cardel Rec South arena. It followed a similar blueprint to the Bisons Game 2 win in the quarterfinals against the Calgary Flames.
In that game, Tyson Scott tied it with 15.6 seconds remaining, before Brandon Machado won it with a tap in during overtime.
Machado had the magic touch once again, this time in double overtime, thanks to the James Norris Memorial trophy-worthy vision from Clayton.
Just over nine minutes into the second overtime, the Buffs were looking to break out of their zone. That’s when Clayton pinched and kept the puck in.
Finding himself on a 2-on-1 with Machado, he drove to the net.
“I was standing on the bench, yelling at Machado to back up; I thought he was too close for Cole to get the puck over to him,” said Henry.
Skating in as tight as he could, Clayton feathered the puck underneath the stick of the kneeling defenseman over to Machado.
“Their guy wasn’t laying down, so there was a tiny triangle underneath the stick that I could fit the puck through. I think the goalie was getting ready for me to shoot because I was in so tight. That’s probably why he couldn’t slide over in time,” said Clayton.
“You can’t teach that stuff, it’s something they’re wired with,” said Henry, about Clayton’s play-making ability in the clutch.
He hit Machado, who delivered his second tap-in overtime winner of the playoffs, as the Strathmore Family Centre went into bedlam.
“He’s a great player and has great patience. He made a great pass; after that, everything turned into a blur,” said Machado.
The players stormed the ice as parents and fans smacked the glass, some even climbing the glass, hanging over the top in celebration.
On the other half of the bracket, the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings swept the top-ranked Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings in the league semis.
Winner advances to the Pacific championships in B.C. for a chance to head to the Telus Cup.
- Category: Sports
It took nearly a month to crown the U19B Zone 2 ringette champion, but the Strathmore Ice finally took home the title March 19 at their home rink.
After dropping the first game of the best-of-three final back in February, the Ice stormed back into the series by clipping the AC Thunder 5-3 March 11 in Cochrane.
Short three players, the Ice managed to level the series thanks to Maddy Wheeler, an affiliated player from the U16A team, who scored four times in Game 2.
With the provincial playoffs and the never-ending battle for ice time throwing a wrench into the schedule earlier in the month, the teams resumed action March 19 for the decisive Game 3 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Led by their captain Darcie Weir, the Ice terminated the Thunder 6-4. Weir netted a pair, while singles came from Natalie Wilson, Emily Torgrimson, Becky Driver and Brooklyn Reinhart.
“We had a very short bench in Game 3, but we played hard with a lot of heart, giving us a chance to win. We also received great goaltending from Erin Reynolds in Game 2 and 3,” said Ice manager Darlene Reynolds.
The Ice advanced to provincials, which take place this weekend (24-26) in Lacombe. The 16-team tournament will be divided into two pools to determine the provincial champion.
- Category: Sports
After winning the B qualifier earlier in the month in Didsbury, the Robertson rink advanced and participated in the Southern Alberta playoffs in Coaldale.
The local rink, comprised of Jayla Robertson, Sydnie Molnar, Micayla Kooistra and Sheldynn Molnar, aged 13-15, took on the Korker rink from Lethbridge in the opener March 17 and lost 4-3.
Robertson’s crew needed a comeback to slide past the Kiist rink from the North Hill Curling Club from Calgary March 18.
The momentum didn’t transfer over to the evening, when they lost to another team from the North Hill Curling Club, Kobylnyk’s squad, 12-1.
“We were thrilled just to be a part of the play-downs. We didn’t go in with any big expectations, I’m glad we were able to compete and have a good time,” said team organizer Mike Molnar.
Robertson’s crew will be moving up into the juvenile division next year, as they look to continue the same success. His squad would like to thank the Strathmore and District Curling Club and Rob Damen for all their help this season.
- Category: Sports
Last series, the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons penalty killers snuffed out the Calgary Buffaloes power play all 15 times.
In Game 1 of the Alberta Midget Hockey League finals, the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings capitalized twice on a five-minute power play, to clip the Bisons 3-1 March 19 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Rarely does defenseman Cayde Augustine join the rush. When Tyson Scott and Blake Wells broke out, he saw an opening to contribute offensively. Scott hit him with a touch pass in the slot, but Easton Hesse was there to turn him away.
At the end of the play, Augustine had his feet swept out from underneath him as his 6-foot-1 frame went barreling into the goaltender. He was dealt a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct. The game misconduct meant that he would be suspended for Game 2 in Leduc.
“We watched the video during the intermission and [Cayde] kind of put himself in a tough spot. He tried to go to the backhand instead of just shooting it, which got him a little tangled up and made it difficult for him to stop,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant.
The Oil Kings power play was operating at a 14.3 per cent clip this postseason before Augustine’s major.
“We used a time out to go over things and make a couple changes, knowing it was a five minute power play and not just a two minute minor,” said Oil Kings head coach Taylor Harnett. “That power play was a big reason why we are walking out of here with a win today.”
Tied 1-1 in the second, Tyler Schendel hit the post from the right faceoff dot. The puck worked its way around to him again, and picked the corner over Ben Laidlaw’s right shoulder with 1:38 remaining on the major penalty.
“We made a couple mental mistakes on that penalty kill that we weren’t making in the Buffs series. We seemed a little bit mentally tired; the mind was going but the hands couldn’t catch up,” said Grant.
Nearly one minute later, Tyson Terretta’s clearing attempt appeared to hit Peyton Krebs in the back, keeping the puck in the zone as Oil Kings affiliated player Dillon Hamaliuk pounced on it, finding the back of the net with 21 seconds left on the major and at the 19:13 mark of the second period.
The Bisons hadn’t seen the Oil Kings since October, when they swept the season series following a 5-1 and 3-2 victory.
Since the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament break, the Oil Kings transformed into a different team.
“Their effort level was really high tonight. They have a disciplined forecheck and plugged us up the middle of the ice. We are going to have to go back to the video tapes and see how we can adjust to their style of game,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry.
They wrapped up the season winning four of their last five, before knocking out the division’s top two seeds in the playoffs and are currently riding a five-game winning streak.
“We are a different team from the one the Bisons played in October. It was a matter of having our players buy into the philosophy. It took a while for us to create our identity and realize the potential we have in this locker room,” said Harnett.
As anticipated, the Bisons got off to a slow start, following their epic four-game series with the Calgary Buffaloes that featured two heart-stopping double-overtime games. The Family Centre was just as packed, but wasn’t able to reproduce the same energy that powered the Bisons to their Game 4 win.
The Oil Kings opened the game by coming down the ice and popping one past Laidlaw. Jack Sander sent the initial shot on net. Laidlaw tried corralling the rebound with three Oil Kings jamming away at the loose puck, before Jaden York wedged it home at the 4:57 mark of the first period.
The Bisons got on board when Airdrie product Brandon Machado intercepted a blue line pass from Cole Lewis to Colby Wolter on the power play. Machado was off to the races, beating Hesse’s low blocker for his fourth of the postseason at the 6:40 mark of the second stanza.
The line of Machado, captain Brett Trentham and Tarun Fizer were the most threatening of any Bison line in Game 1.
Playing in his third game back, it appeared the chemistry and game speed returned to Fizer, who was one of the Bisons’ top point producers before going down to an injury in January.
“I definitely felt better tonight than I did my first game back. I wasn’t sucking wind after each shift tonight,” said Fizer. “I felt like we got a lot of good chances out there tonight, we just need to put a couple in and we should be fine against this team.”
The Bisons finished 20 points higher in the standings than the Oil Kings this season.
The Herd was buzzing in the third period, but couldn’t get one to fall, as Hesse was forced to make over half his saves in the third period (13).
Game 2 of the finals went March 22 at Sobeys Arena in Leduc. Game 3 returns to the Strathmore Family Centre March 24 at 8 p.m. If necessary, Game 4 would take place March 26 in Leduc, with Game 5 returning to Strathmore March 27 (8 p.m.).
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School Spartans senior girls basketball team made waves in Medicine Hat during the Alberta Schools Athletic Association 3A provincials over the weekend.
After capturing their second South Central Zone championship, the Spartans headed to provincials ranked 10th in the province and looking to make good after their winless trip back in the 2013-2014 season.
“This was an absolutely positive experience for the girls. It was always a goal of ours to make provincials and do a little bit of damage, and we were able to accomplish that,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy.
The Spartans knocked off the seventh-ranked Strathcona Christian Academy Eagles 62-58 March 16, led by Brianna Kennedy’s barrage of threes and trips to the free throw line.
Ffyona Gibson-Smith chipped in 11 points, while Sydney Boyd racked up nine points and Tatum Wathen supplied six points.
Taking on the host and No. 2 ranked Monsignor McCoy High School Colts in their second game, the Spartans fell 64-46 March 17, knocking them out of title contention.
Kaylin Larson led the way with 16 points and Allie Davidson was good for 11 points.
“I finally shot the ball pretty well all weekend compared to our past few games,” said Larson. “It was our goal at the beginning of the year to make it to provincials, so it was cool to see all of our hard work (and) extra shots in the gym pay off in the end.”
The following day, the Spartans ride at provincials came to an end when the No. 6 ranked Beaumont Composite High School Bandits stuffed them 64-49. Kennedy and Larson both poured in tournament highs with 22 and 20 points, respectively.
“The first half in the Beaumont game was the one half in the past two weeks that wasn’t great, we only scored 10 points,” said Galandy.
“Hopefully we bring the experience from this weekend into next season with the returning group of girls and we start the year on another strong high level.”