Most teams would be happy enough knowing they are hosting a provincial championship and will participate as the host team. But not the Strathmore Midget A Storm.
The Storm’s season turned around once their provincial status cemented when they were given the rights to host provincials back in December.
Doug Raycroft’s crew turned things around, and swept the top-ranked Stettler Lightning in the Central Alberta Hockey League final.
“We didn’t want to be just another host team in provincials,” said Raycroft. “Stettler won the provincials last year and they had a lot of players back on the team this year, but we kept growing each game as a team and took it to them. Nobody in our locker room was surprised by the result.”
The Storm polished off the Lightning 2-1 March 17 and wrapped up the series with a 4-2 victory March 18.
All that leads up to the provincial championships at the Strathmore Family Centre this weekend. The action kicked off March 23. The Storm are in action March 24 at 10:30 a.m. They wrap up round-robin play March 25 at 1 p.m. on the blue rink. Playoffs go March 26 with the first semifinal at 8 a.m. The championship is slated for 4 p.m.
Raycroft is confident in his team’s ability to move the puck, and hoping it will transfer into success this weekend.
“We like to play faster than most teams, use our good breakout systems (get) around on the other team,” said Raycroft.
Jayden Hendricks led the Storm with 11 goals and 17 assists in 14 games. Ethan Raycroft went 3-1-3 between the pipes with a 2.86 goals against average. His partner Devon Swan backstopped the Storm to a 5-1-1 record with a 1.43 record, as the Storm finished the regular season third, going 8-2-4.
One of the main events that took place away from the rink was the Spirit of Hockey Day. The Storm coordinated with elementary schools from the town and invited them out to the arena to meet the players and coaches, and were presented with gifts. It was another way of minor hockey getting involved with the community.