Sports

SP6D16

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

A pair of double-digit runs by the Strathmore High School Spartans girls’ basketball team elevated them to an easygoing 58-18 victory Dec. 6 over the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks at the Strathmore High School gym.
The Hawks trailed 18-2 after the first quarter. Grade 11 guard Destiny Stevens scored the first regular-season basket in the first on a put-back layup.
The Spartans carried a 16-0 run into the second quarter and registered a 14-0 run spanning the third and fourth quarter.
“I’m not too sure what slowed us down tonight. We came out really flat in the first, but to our credit, the girls recognized we were flat and kept trying to make plays happen,” said Hawks head coach Brad Everett.
Hawks senior point guard Darcie Weir kept grinding despite the mounting deficit.
If her shot wasn’t falling, she cut around screens without the ball, and didn’t settle for jump shots by attacking the rim, heading to the charity stripe three times. Never giving up, she hit the floor for loose balls and walked away with six steals.
“She’s a very accomplished athlete. Sure, she had some shooting problems, but I’d be more worried if she shot 1-for-2 instead of 1-for-10. The shots will start to drop for her,” said Everett.
The Spartans senior guard Brianna Kennedy certainly didn’t have any problem with the rims. She was lights out in the first half, which included a stretch where she nailed four-of-five three pointers, finishing with 14 points, two rebounds and three steals.
Fellow senior Ffyona Gibson-Smith didn’t see her jumper drop as frequently as she would have liked, three baskets on 10 shots, but carved her way to the free throw line three times, draining four of six attempts. She was also tough on the glass, pulling down seven boards. Tatum Wathen shot efficiently, registering eight points on seven shots combined with a pair of blocks.
“These are tough games to be a part of. Neither team is able to really learn anything or work on anything when it plays out like it did. You get into bad habits and possibly get rewarded for things you shouldn’t,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy.
The shooting simply wasn’t there for the Hawks. The team combined to go 4 for 20 from the charity stripe and 8 for 35 from the floor.
“It’d be one thing if we were getting the type of shots we wanted, but we were, and they weren’t falling. We will continue to work and know that sooner or later, they will start to go down,” said Everett.
The Hawks were in action Dec. 12 when they hosted the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School Spartans at Holy Cross and traveled to Holy Trinity Academy in Okotoks Dec. 14. They return home to face the Highwood High School Mustangs Dec. 19 (5:30 p.m.).
The Spartans are in action again Dec. 14 when they travel to Strathcona. They will host their tournament beginning Dec. 16 when they take on the Banff Community High School Bears at 5:30 p.m.

SP8D16

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

Wheatland Braves head coach Keith Klemmensen might have received his Christmas gift early, as his team appears to have bought into his hard-working style of play.
The local double-A peewee team (5-13-2) capped off their first winning weekend and slid into sixth place with a 5-2 dusting of the Okotoks Oilers Black (10-2-1) during South Central Alberta Hockey League action Dec. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The win was their third in four games, and while the goals have been bountiful, Klemmensen loves the effort and detail on the defensive end.
“All the boys paid attention both ways on the ice; we got on the right side of the puck and did the little things right,” said Klemmensen.
The Braves defensive core kept the puck to the outside and limited shots, making Matthew Dovichak’s job in net easy. He recorded 14 saves for his second win.
After first period goals from Philip Raycroft and Josh Alberda, Ryder Many Grey Horses netted the winner on the power play. Alberda blasted one from the point, careened it off the end boards where Many Grey Horses chipped it into the side of the net.
Nearly six minutes later, Cyle Clayton unloaded another bomb from the point, this one on net. Rio Kroeker made the initial save, but Jack Slemp was on the doorstep to pounce on the rebound, stuffing in his fourth on the year five-hole.
Raycroft buried his second of the game when he crashed the net on a rush, jamming home the rebound.
The Braves bounced the 9-4-2 Bow Valley Timberwolves 8-3 Dec. 9 at Hussar Arena.
Raycroft pulled the hat trick and added one assist, while other goals came from Many Grey Horses (1G, 2A), Nolan Mahussier (1G, 1A), Tyler Fairbairn, Cole Whelan and Cole Tweit. Tate Yule chipped in with a pair of assists, with other helpers coming from Clayton, Nolan Bell, Carter Gosling and Slemp.
Rhett Harten made 32 saves in net for his third win.
The Braves don’t play another regular season game until Jan. 6 when they host the Airdrie Lightning White (4-13-2) at Hussar Arena.
In the meantime, the Braves host a tournament at Hussar Arena, beginning Dec. 16, running through Dec. 18.

 

Warriors split a pair
The Wheatland Warriors split a pair of road games over the weekend.
Red Deer Ramada (7-10-3) skated to a 4-1 victory over the Warriors at the Collicut Centre Arena on Dec. 10.
Matthew Quebec scored his second goal in as many games when he buried a power play marker from Austin Kuryk and Mitch Tessemaker at the end of the first period.
Ramada appeared to be too strong for the Warriors (7-11-2) to mount a comeback. They put a bow on the Warriors with a pair of goals in the second period. Corey Ross yielded four goals on 27 shots.
The local double-A bantam team bounced back by doubling the Central Alberta Selects 4-2 Dec. 11 at the Gary Moe Sportsplex. The Selects fall to 12-7-1.
Knotted 2-2 after the second period on power play goals by Cole Walker and Kegan Law, the Warriors took over in the third.
Adam Kirkpatrick assisted on Kage Yellowfly’s winner and picked up the empty net goal with 53 seconds remaining.
Logan Grant, who shutout the Selects a week prior, registered 34 saves for his sixth win.
The Warriors host the Foothills Bisons Dec. 18 (1:30 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre in their last regular season game until the New Year.
The Warriors pick up SCAHL play Jan. 7 in Olds against the Grizzlys (11-5-1).

 

Chiefs continue win streak
The Wheatland Chiefs 10-game winning streak was hanging in the balance late, but was rescued and preserved by the league’s leading sniper as they slighted the 6-10-4 Airdrie Lightning 4-3 Dec. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Tied at three, Brady Skiffington took the puck down the ice and found Isaac Benoit open, who wired home the winner with 1:41 remaining.
A.J. Kusu netted a short-handed tally in the first and an even-strength goal, while Skiffington supplied a power play marker at the 4:08 mark in the second from Scott Desserre and Benoit.
Riley Stovka made 18 saves.
The local double-A midget team played Dec. 13 at the Pason Centennial Arena against the Okotoks Oilers Green (7-7-3) and Dec. 14 at the Max Bell Centre #2 against CRAA Blue (9-5-3).
Their play at home Dec. 17 when they host the Oilers Green at Hussar Arena and Dec. 18 against the Foothills Bisons (2-17-2) at the Strathmore Family Centre (7 p.m.).

SP9D16

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

Only 10 more days remain on the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament advent calendar until the drop of the puck.
The 17-2-3 CFR Chemicals Bisons discovered their round robin opponents Dec. 7 at the Westin in downtown Calgary.
Now, the planning begins as the Bisons look to lift the trophy for the second time in franchise history.
The Bisons are the host team in Pool 5, which features the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs from the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL), the Alaska Oilers (Alaskan State Hockey League), Greater Vancouver Canadians (B.C. Minor Midget Hockey League) and the Moose Jaw Generals (Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League).
The 39th annual tournament kicks off Boxing Day and wraps up New Year’s Day.
The Bisons will have less than 24 hours between unwrapping Santa’s gifts and puck drop, as they take on a familiar face in the opener. The Red Deer Optimist Chiefs will host the Bisons Dec. 26 (12:45 p.m.) at Father David Bauer Arena.
The Chiefs (10-9-2) captured the inaugural tournament back in 1978.
“We will be able to game plan for Red Deer a little bit,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “We are familiar with them and they are familiar with us. There’s no surprises there.”
The Chiefs were the first team to disrupt the Bisons perfect season back on Oct. 28, when they skated to a roughly played 2-2 tie up in Red Deer.
But after that, scouting for this tournament is minimal, minus a couple of Google searches and a few phones calls.
“That’s just part of the tournament. You prepare as much as you can, you go in with what you got and make the adjustments as you move along,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant. “Every team is in the same boat.”
Unlike the NBA and NHL that take a fun, relaxed break in the middle of their season for their respective all-star games, the Bisons are potentially adding eight extra games into their busy AMHL campaign.
Christmas break doesn’t exist for these kids like it used to growing up. The Bisons battle the Calgary Northstars Dec. 21 in their final AMHL game before the tourney, and will take on the Hungarian National U18 squad Dec. 23 at Pason Centennial Arena in Okotoks as a warm up for the tourney.
“Since the players were picked for this team, they have been looking forward to this tournament. I think they’re more than okay giving up some free time around Christmas,” said Grant.
The Bisons host the Alaska Oilers Dec. 27 in their only feature game at the Max Bell Centre #1. Puck drop is set for 2:30 p.m. and will include pregame festivities such as player introductions.
Zachary Krajnik leads the Oilers (17-6-1) who made the 2,000-mile trek from Anchorage with seven goals and a staggering 23 assists through 24 games. In net, they share a tandem combo much like the Bisons, with Jack Walters and Eric Yancey playing 12 games each. Yancey is 10-3 with a 2.03 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. Walters isn’t too far behind him, going 7-3-1 with a 2.14 GAA and a .895 save percentage.
“We don’t know much about the American teams, but we expect a dog fight,” said Bisons forward Kaden Hanas. “They’re here for a reason and we know they are going to come out flying. We are going to have to play our hearts out to win this pool.”
The Bisons will have a full off day before they take on the Greater Vancouver Canadians Dec. 29 (2:30 p.m.) at Father David Bauer Arena.
The Canadians produced current NHLers Evander Kane (Buffalo Sabres) and Brendan Gallagher (Montreal Canadiens), and are currently led by Chris Douglas, who has racked up 12 goals, 31 points in 21 games and is an affiliated player for the Red Deer Rebels (WHL).
In net, Lukas Shaw sits 5-3-3 with a 2.75 goals against average and is a Surrey Eagles prospect of the B.C. Hockey League.
The Canadians sit sixth in the BCMMHL with 10-8-3-1 record.
“We just need to do what we do: work hard at practice, prepare to play and expect playoff-like hockey,” said defensemen Cole Clayton, who is one of six Bisons returning to the tournament.
The Bisons close out their round robin Dec. 30 in a battle with the top team from the SMAAAHL, the Generals at Max Bell Centre #1.
A rookie, Reece Nekirk, who has piled up nine goals and 22 points in 25 games, leads the 19-5-0-1 Generals. The Portland Winterhawks selected Newkirk in the third round of the 2016 WHL draft. Behind Newkirk on the leaderboard is left defenseman Devan Harrison (3 G, 16A) who was taken one round earlier by the Kamloops Blazers.
The Generals are very stingy in net. Their 48 goals allowed are the third fewest in the SMAAAHL.
Stopping all those pucks are Hunter Arps and Matt Lenz. Arps is 10-2 with four shutouts and a 1.73 GAA with a .929 save percentage. Lenz sits 9-3 with three shutouts and carries a 1.73 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Following the round robin, the leader from each division advances with three wildcard spots occupying the remaining playoff seeding. No two-wildcard teams can come from the same division.
Pool 1 features the Calgary Buffaloes, Arizona Bobcats, Belarus National U17 team, Regina Pat Canadians and the Vancouver NE Chiefs. Pool 2 consists of the Calgary Northstars, Cariboo Cougars (Prince George B.C.), New York Jr. Islanders, Notre Dame Hounds and SSAC Boston Pizza Athletics. The Calgary Royals host Pool 3 and are accompanied by the Austrian National U18 team, Okanagan Rockets, Saskatoon Contacts and Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings. Pool 4 is rounded out by the Calgary Flames, the Hungarian National team, Leduc Motor Oils Kings, New Jersey Hitmen and Prince Albert Mintos.
The quarterfinals kick off early on New Year’s Eve and the semifinals follow later that day. The championship is slated for Jan.1, 6 p.m. at the Scotia Bank Saddledome.
Schedules, standings and tournament leaders will be available online and updated as the tournament plays out.

SP1D9

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

Thoracic surgery is easier to understand than this Strathmore Wheatland Kings season.
Less than 24 hours removed from getting pulverized 10-2 by the division leading Coaldale Copperheads, the Kings turned around and lambasted the Copperheads 7-4 Dec. 4 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“I don’t know what it was last night; maybe road game legs, or something, we just didn’t show up to play and they did,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley.
Brady Hoover got the call between the pipes for the Kings first tilt of the season with the Copperheads.
The Kings rubber stopper didn’t make it out of the first period, yielding five goals on 21 shots. Labeled their best option in net, Stoodley rolled Hoover back out there for the home half of the home-and-home, and he responded with 28 saves.
“We didn’t play in front of him last night. He played well, but we just had to get him out of there,” said Stoodley.
Playing their third game in three nights, the Copperheads got off to a slow start, but heated up in the third, but Hoover stood tall on home ice.
His biggest save came when Tyler Anderson weaseled his way just below the right faceoff circle when he received the puck. With all kinds of time and not a Kings defender within 15-feet of him, he picked out a spot, but Hoover slid over for the shoulder save.
Alternate captain Brenden Moore collected the rebound and sent Matt Thomson streaking up the left wing. Thomson kept and blistered one past backup netminder Dillan Kelly to put the Kings ahead 6-4 at the 10:23 mark of the third.
Kelly replaced starter Dylan Swanson at the start of the second period.
The Kings ambushed Swanson, scoring four in the opening frame, including two from leading scorer Brooker Pretty Youngman.
“We mentioned that last night’s game was over with. This was a new start and we had to come out focused for this game,” said Kings rookie right-winger Kody Hammond.
Pretty Youngman finished off the hat trick in style, sliding it home when the Copperheads emptied the net for the final 1:20.
“We wanted to send a message after getting blown out like we did last night,” said Pretty Youngman, who was named HJHL player of the week earlier in October. “It’s important to take wins away from some of the top teams in the league.”
He has already set career high in points (13 G, 18A) and continues to drive his 6-foot-3, 230-pound frame towards the net. He recorded a hat trick earlier Oct. 14, in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Airdrie Techmation Thunder.
Pretty Youngman found his butt stapled to the bench early in the first period. The Kings took three straight penalties in the opening frame.
“Penalty killing isn’t really my role on this team,” said Pretty Youngman. “My legs got a little cold, but you just need to keep your mind right and stay in the game at that point.”
One of the Kings key penalty killers, Hammond, returned after he sustained a lower-body injury blocking a shot last week.
Kings captain Keenan Ogle out-manned a pair of Copperhead defenders in the corner, walked out to the left faceoff dot, creating enough space to get a shot off. Hammond was standing to the left of the net as Ogle’s rebound came right to him, and he stuffed it below Kelly’s left pad for the game-winning goal.
Hammond has been playing with Ogle and Cole Busslinger all season and has really begun to take off lately, scoring in four consecutive games.
“(Hammond) has come a long way. He’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever coached,” said Stoodley, who worked with Hammond the past two seasons when they were members of the Wheatland Athletic Association midget Chiefs. “He’s not playing out of his element, he just works hard and crashes the net.”
“I think my game is coming along (well), there’s still stuff to learn, but the speed of the game is coming along for me,” said the Strathmore product Hammond
Zachary Meadows chipped in his fifth goal of the season and Ogle added another for the Kings, as they outshot the Copperheads 39-32.
The Kings have improved to 6-5-0 at the Strathmore Family Centre this season.
Another home-and-home series lies ahead, this time with the Okotoks Bisons.
The Kings host the Bisons Dec. 10 during the Thomson toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House game. Fans are encouraged to bring a new toy to the game for free entry as the puck drops at 8 p.m.
The Kings travel to Okotoks Dec. 11 for a matinee (1:15 p.m.) event. The Kings are 1-1 with the Bisons this year.

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

There is some up-and-coming local talent submitting strong seasons as we round into the Christmas break.
Mitchell Desserre and Benjamin Kruse have been big contributors for the 8-6-4 Rockyview Raiders minor midget AAA team this season.
“Mitch is one of our hardest workers,” said Raiders coach Carl Knudsen. “He loves to block shots and is a stay-at-home defenseman.”
Desserre serves as one of the alternate captains and has a pair of goals and four points through 16 games.
Mitch’s brother Scott is a member on the division-leading Wheatland Athletic Association midget Chiefs this season.
“Mitch is working his way back from breaking his toe from a blocked shot earlier in the year, but he has a great shot back there and is a great skater for us,” said Knudsen.
Up front is the 5-foot-8 captain Kruse.
“He has been our most reliable player and another one of our hardest workers,” said Knudsen. “He’s not gifted with the most skill, but he out-works everyone on the ice.”
A left shot, Kruse plays in any situation; penalty kill, power play, even strength and four-on-four. In 18 games, he has four goals and seven points.
The Raiders sit fourth in the South Division, one point behind the CBHA Rangers for third. Their 45 goals allowed are sixth lowest in the Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League.
The Raiders are in action again Dec. 17 when they welcome the Rangers to Chestermere Regional Community Association arena. Puck drop is slated for 3:30 p.m.

SP3D9

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The Crowther Memorial Junior High School hockey program held the second annual Hockey for Hunger as a winter wrap-up party Dec. 2 at the Strathmore Family Centre and turned it into a food drive for the Strathmore Wheatland County Christmas Hamper.
Crowther Memorial Junior High School Grade 7 students, Brentwood Grade 6 students and the Westmount hockey program were all invited to take part in the event.
“It’s very important to hold events like these with the economic times we are in,” said hockey program coach Rod Neaves. “This is just one way to bring awareness to the issue.”
Students crammed into the Family Centre, holding signs as their classmates played an exhibition game on the ice. It would have been the largest crowd for any Bisons or Kings game this year.
“The people need the food and it’s easy for kids to bring something with them to the arena,” said CMJHS teacher and event organizer Anne Paskevich.
Athletes and students were encouraged to donate non-perishable food items to the arena, or to the junior high.
Paskevich tallied 627 donations from the Hockey for Hunger event. There are more opportunities to drop off food donations at the school on Dec. 9, 12 and 14 at CMJHS.

SP4D9

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The Strathmore High School Spartans walked away from the Early Bird Tournament with a split.
The Spartans hosted the tourney Dec. 2 and 3 at the high school gym.
The senior boys Spartans clipped the Calgary Islamic School 92-62 in the opener and lost 72-67 to the West Central High School Rebels Dec. 3.
“I thought we played pretty good. You know, it’s only the first tourney, so you kind of just want to see what we got and see if our guys come together at all,” said Spartans head coach Matt Laslo. “It looks like, if we work this season as hard as we worked this weekend, we will be just fine. As long as you work hard out there, you can coach offensive and defensive systems. This should be a pretty fun year.”
The Spartans battled their cross-town rival, the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks in a Foothills Senior Basketball League game Dec. 6 at Strathmore High School. Result not available as of press time.
Meanwhile, the junior varsity boys team rattled off three victories in their season debut.
“Overall, I was happy with our performance. We played well on offence and our guys off the bench played well also,” said head coach Cory Nelson. “There are a few things to work on, but overall, I was happy with everyone’s effort.”
The Spartans danced with the Highwood High School Mustangs Dec. 8 and prepared for the Brooks High School Invitational Tournament this weekend, with their first game Dec. 9 against the Eagle Butte High School Talons.
Despite starting slow in each game, the senior girls returned from their tournament in Medicine Hat with a 2-1 record.
They piled up wins over the Highwood High School Mustangs (50-28) and Kate Andrews High School Cats (65-48). They lost the opener 58-53 Dec. 2 to the Holy Rosary High School Raiders at Crescent Heights High School.
Brianna Kennedy led the Spartans in scoring each game. She piled up 12 points against the Raiders, a tourney-high 20 points in a win over the Mustangs and scored 12 points against the Cats.
“It looks like we have a lot of potential here. Despite having returning players, we are a team that has a lot of players not used to playing such prominent roles. We are still learning what we can be. This team has a lot of promise,” said Spartan head coach Dion Galandy.
The Spartans faced the HCC Hawks Dec. 6 and have a road game at Strathcona High School Dec. 11. They host their tournament Dec. 16 and 17 at the High School.
The Warriors will host the Central Alberta Selects (10-5-1) Dec. 4 (4:15 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.

Tyler Lowey

Times Reporter

 

Justin “the Animal” Schmit is settling nicely into his new home in the middleweight class.
After losing five straight fights at 175-pounds, Schmit, owner of APEX MMA, has gone 2-1 at 185-pounds, including a second round technical knockout of Brent Keryluke Dec. 4 during Havoc 11 at the Prairie Pavilion Westerner Exhibition Centre in Red Deer.
“Everything went perfectly to plan. I basically did everything the coaches and I planned to do. When you are that prepared for a fight and you execute the game plan, you aren’t too surprised by the result. It just feels like another fight,” said Schmit.
A ground-and-pound fighter, Schmit was feeding elbows to Keryluke (3-3), forcing the referee to call the fight at the 2:41 mark of the second round.
“We planned to keep the fight standing up, but that wasn’t working. Luckily, we had a Plan B, which was to punish him up against the fence or on the ground,” said Filip Cecic, who has been Schmit’s coach for six months now. “What separates Justin from other fighters is his toughness. He might not be the best technical fighter in the cage, but he has more (guts) than 95 per cent of the fighters I’ve seen in my life.”
Walking around at 215, Schmit believes his trouble at the 175-class was due to the toll his body took trying to cut weight.
“It was taking a lot out of me. That, and the guys at 175 were pretty quick. Maybe it was a combination of the two that slowed me down,” said Schmit.
Schmit preferably likes eight weeks of preparation to diet, game plan and train for a fight. He accepted this fight with only three weeks notice.
The 32-year-old is trying to make the most of his post-30s career. Following a 2015 season in which his injury rap sheet would have made an orthopedist squirm, he is healthy again and taking on all suitors.
One of which appears to be Keryluke. The two are rumoured for a rematch in the New Year.

SP6D9

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior girls opened the season with their home tournament over the weekend.
The Hawks picked up a 31-29 win in the opener over Didsbury High School Dragons Dec. 2 at Holy Cross Collegiate gym.
“This weekend went as expected; there were some rusty spots, but I thought we played well as a team,” said Hawks head coach Brad Everett. “The stuff we were able to control — defensive and offensive sets — went well, but you could tell by our shooting it was our first weekend out.”
In the semis, the Hawks fell to the eventual tourney champs, the Kainai High School Warriors 62-35. A closely contested match through three quarters, the Warriors pulled ahead in the final frame. Darcie Weir led the Hawks with 12 points.
The West Island College Wolves bested the Hawks 32-27 in the consolation final Dec. 3.
“I would say the tournament was very successful for us. It was good to shake off the beginning-of-the-season nerves, and the girls ran the offense and press-break very effectively. So far, they have proven themselves to be a very strong team defensively as well,” said assistant coach Deanna Sample.
The Hawks took on the Strathmore High School Spartans Dec. 6 at Strathmore High School.
The senior boys were dormant over the weekend, but battled the senior boys from Strathmore High School Dec. 6 following the girl’s game. They also took on the Oilfields High School Drillers Dec. 7 at HCC. Results were not available as of press time.
They host their tournament Dec. 16-17 at the Holy Cross gym.

SP7D9

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The Wheatland Warriors were 46 seconds away from an undefeated weekend against two of the top teams from the South Central Alberta Hockey League. It was their first league action in three weeks.
The local double-A bantam team was tied 3-3 late in the third against the South Conference leading Taber Golden Suns (12-4-1), when Mitch Tessemaker sat for holding.
Kolby James potted his team-leading 20th goal from Nolan Price and Jayden Kostiuk, icing the Warriors.
“Last night was a good game, we tried to take it from Taber, but a few lackadaisical plays cost us. It was one of our best efforts of the year,” said Warriors head coach Cody Brown.
Austin Kuryk sniped a pair; Max Schafer added his third goal, with assists coming from Adam Kirkpatrick, Kage Yellowfly and Tessemaker. Corey Ross stood on his head, making 30 saves at the Taber Community Centre.
The Warriors (6-10-2) rebounded nicely, as they faced the second-place Central Alberta Selects (11-6-1) Dec. 4 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Knotted at zero following the opening frame, the Warriors found the back of the net in the second and the third, skating to the 2-0 victory.
“Our team is definitely coming along,” said Brown. “It is a little bit bad timing, right before the Christmas break, but we wanted to get as good as we could before the holidays so the transition coming back is easier.”
The Selects came out and controlled the majority of the play in the opening frame. The Warriors had a few chances; Trey Gillis and Kuryk were off on a 2-on-1 with seven seconds left, but couldn’t push one across.
Gillis brought the fight to the Selects. He delivered several punishing hits and on one shift in the second period, he laid a defender out, blocked a shot and had a breakaway attempt.
“Trey is a big energy guy,” said Brown. “He likes to get the group fired up and sparks us with high energy.”
With 56 ticks remaining in the second, Kirkpatrick took the puck from the corner and drove to the net. There, the Warriors leading scorer Kage Yellowfly jammed away and shoveled in the winner.
“Kage has been good for us. He has taken big strides from last season to now,” said Brown. “He wants to get better every time he steps on the ice.”
Matthew Quebec supplied the insurance on the power play in the third when Kirkpatrick sent a sweet feed to Quebec from the corner, and he one-timed it home.
Logan Grant made 28 saves to collect the Warriors first shutout of the season.
“If we aren’t working, we are a very mediocre team,” said Brown. “But, if we show up and compete, we can test anyone in this league.”
Next up for the Warriors is a pair of road games. First, they travel to the Collicutt Centre Arena Dec. 10 to tango with the Red Deer Ramada (6-9-3), followed by a rematch with the Selects Dec. 11 at the Gary Moe Sportsplex.
Their next home game is slated for Dec. 18 when they host the Foothills Bisons (2-16-0).

 

Chiefs on fire
In the midget circuit, the Chiefs are driving a steamroller downhill, leveling anything in their path.
A pair of victories over the weekend extends their season-high win streak to 10 games.
“Everyone is chipping in right now. It’s great to see,” said Chiefs assistant coach Matt Gass. “We’re getting great play from everyone; from our goaltenders, to our defensemen up to our forwards. Whether they are first year players or second year, we don’t have fear of sending anyone out there in any situation.”
The Chiefs have clogged up league leaderboards. They own half of the Top 10 in league scoring - including the No. 1 and 2 spots - and the top goaltender.
Their 112 goals-for more than doubles the next closest team and for teams playing at least 15 games, they have allowed the leagues fewest goals against (27).
The Chiefs stuffed the 4-1-2 NWCAA Bruins 5-3 Nov. 30 at the Max Bell Centre. Isaac Benoit and Chayse Hnatowich each bagged a pair while Wacy Sandum supplied one goal. Picking up helpers were Ryan McHarg (2), Lucas Muenchrath (2), Robert Butterwick (2), Riley Romashenko and Ryan Bell.
Playing a makeup game, the Chiefs annihilated the 1-17-2 Foothills Bisons 15-0 Dec. 3 at Hussar Arena.
Hnatowich led the way with 1+5, Romashenko added 4+1, Benoit supplied a pair of goals and assists, while other contributions came from Ryan Longmuir (1+2), Kelton Travis (3A), Sandum (2G), Butterwick (2G) Muenchrath (1+1), Kale Clouston (1+1), Tyler Skehar (1G) and midget-A Storm affiliated player Chayse Clayton chipped in with an assist.
Clayton’s teammate on the Storm ‘A’ was Ethan Rycroft, who made his second appearance with the Chiefs in net. He turned away all 12 shots for his first shutout.
“Ethan has been practicing with us lots. He’s a local guy and I thought he earned the opportunity to go in net,” said Gass.
The Chiefs (15-1-1) traveled down Dec. 4 to the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre to battle Lethbridge Hurricanes (6-8-3).
Hnatowich registered the hat trick and one assist as the Chiefs tamed the Hurricanes 6-3.
Other markers came from Travis, Benoit and Sandum, with assists to Zachary Suntjens (2), Clayton (2), Romashenko (2), Muenchrath, Butterwick and Brady Skiffington.
Only one game on the docket for the Chiefs this weekend, as they host the Airdrie Lightning Dec. 11 (7 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.

 

Braves fall
The Bow Valley Timberwolves (9-3-2) doubled the peewee Braves 8-4 Dec. 4 at the Spray Lakes Sawmills Family Sports Centre.
Matt Dovichak was peppered in net for the Braves (3-13-2), making 34 stops.
Forward Nolan Mahussier was in on every goal, finishing with one goal and three helpers. Tate Yule added one goal and one assist, with other goals coming from Ryder Many Grey Horses and Cole Tweit. Adam Moore tallied one assist.
The Braves host the Timberwolves Dec. 9 at Hussar Arena. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Two days later, the Braves host the Okotoks Oilers Black (5-8-2) at the Strathmore Family Centre. That game gets underway at 4:15 p.m.

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The -15 C that froze Strathmore solid Monday morning was not hell freezing over because the CFR Chemicals Bisons (17-1-2) picked up their first loss of the Alberta Midget Hockey League season.
“It was a long run and fun while it lasted. We knew that it was coming eventually,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant. “This league is too good and the coaches are too smart for a team to go unbeaten.”
The Bisons saw their undefeated season come to a halt when they were trimmed 3-1 by the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders (15-2-3) Dec. 4 at Akinsdale Arena.
“It was a good serving of humble pie,” said Grant.
The Raiders carried a 2-0 lead deep into the third period before Victoria Cougars prospect Tarun Fizer pushed across his 10th of the year from Brandon Machado and Jackson Salt.
“They tried to get us off our game by shooting pucks at us in warm up and small fights after each whistle,” said Bisons captain Brett Trentham. “By the time we beared down and started playing hockey, it was too late.”
The Bisons looked to tie it when Raiders d-man Aidan West got called for tripping with 6:59 remaining.
“Their goalie stood on his head. The pucks that were going in for us Saturday, weren’t bouncing right for us Sunday,” added Grant.
Chris Curr made 35 saves for his seventh win, while in the Bisons net, Hunter Young stopped 30 shots.
The Raiders (8-11-1) added an empty netter with one second remaining.
“It was a lesson for us and we need to have a short memory as we move on together as a team,” said Trentham. “I’d rather lose in December than in March.”
Earlier in the weekend, it was a heavyweight bout between the top seeds from each division. The Bisons edged the Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings 5-3 in their first tilt of the season.
The Bisons blitzed the Kings with three goals in the opening frame. Captain Brett Trentham opened the scoring from Machado, while Tyler Petrie and Fizer on the power play found the back of the net.
“The boys came ready to play. We played heavy and used our speed as we got a couple bounces go our way,” said Grant. “These guys are smart, they know the standings and they knew who we were playing.”
Machado netted the winner from Tyler Strath and Fizer with 12 minutes remaining in the second. Machado finished with one goal and three assists in his best weekend of the season. He has racked up six goals and 18 points in 19 games thus far.
“He has a really, really good game. He has rounded out nicely for us. He has always been a skilled guy on the defensive side, but now he is playing well on both ends. His whole line of Tarun (Fizer) and (Brett) Trentham played well, and even (Jackson) Salt when we moved him there Sunday,” said Grant. “Brandon is starting to consistently turn into an elite player each game.”
Cochrane product Ben Laidlaw made 34 saves for his 11th win as the Bisons outshot the Kings by seven.
The Bisons look to start another winning streak Dec. 9 when they host the Calgary Royals (12-4-3) at the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop set for 8 p.m.
“We realize we have to be on our toes and we can’t afford to take a night off against these teams nipping at our heels in the standings,” said Trentham.
Seeing as the Christmas season is here now, the Bisons will be taking part in their 16th annual Christmas Shop with the Bisons on Dec. 11.
Each player will head around town to the elementary schools to be paired up with a child who might be a little less fortunate this time of the year and do some Christmas shopping. The kids and the players will head to the Co-op at 8 a.m. for an hour of shopping for the child’s family, followed by players attempting to wrap all the gifts. The Co-op sponsors the event. The kids and their families will also be given tickets to attend the Bisons tilt with the second-place Calgary Buffaloes (14-1-4) that afternoon (2 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Bisons haven’t faced the Buffaloes or Royals this season, who sit second and third respectably in the Chrysler division. Last season, the Bisons went 1-0-1 against the Buffaloes and 2-0 against the Royals.

SP1D2

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

Burdened without their starting goalie, second leading scorer and top rookie, the Strathmore Wheatland Kings picked up a momentum-saving 5-2 win over the High River Flyers Nov. 26 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“That was a huge win for us. The guys quickly forgot about the game in Okotoks and were ready to go from the drop of the puck. Every point helps,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley.
Now into the second half of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL) season, the Kings looked to keep their strong play going following a sweep last weekend of the number two and three ranked teams. The Kings entered the game five points ahead of the Flyers (6-15-0) for the final playoff spot in the south conference.
Matt Thomson led the way offensively as the Kings built their cushion on the edge of the playoff picture.
For Thomson, it was his second hat-trick of the season. He recorded one Oct. 14 against the Airdrie Techmation Thunder.
Kody Briggs smacked Nolan Lightning inadvertently in the face with a high stick in the Kings’ zone and was issued a four-minute minor. That high stick set the tone for the game and allowed Thomson to take over.
Walking along the blue line, sidestepping a pair of poke-checks, Thomson unleashed a blistering snapshot, beating Flyers netminder Bryce Shegelski. Laval Jerry and Brooker Pretty Youngman picked up assists on the power play marker 7:39 into the first.
“We have told him, anytime he thinks he can get a shot off, take it. He has an NHL-caliber shot, so use it,” said Stoodley.
Zachary Meadows won the opening faceoff to start the second period back to defenseman Hayden Vanderploeg, who opted to drive wide instead of dumping it in. From behind the Flyers net, Vanderploeg spotted Thomson open to the right of the net and he wasted no time blasting it past Shegelski 25 seconds into the frame.
He completed the hat trick on a two-on-one rush with Meadows in the third period, when he elected to shoot from the hash marks, burning Shegelski for a third time.
“There was no way I was passing, he missed a chance that I set him up with earlier,” said Thomson. “Sometimes you got to get a little greedy to get those goals; thankfully the score and the stage of the game allowed me to do that.”
Thomson has organized a toy drive Dec. 10 when the Kings host the Okotoks Bisons. He is taking this opportunity to give back to the Ronald McDonald House, a place that helped him out when his daughter, Alora, was born last spring.
“It’s really been a night and day difference since he’s became a father. I coached against him when he was in midget and he used to be a guy that we could get under his skin and take bad penalties. While he still has flashes of that, he has a much better understanding of what he is doing out there,” said Stoodley.
Joining the dad club was George Montour, who now has a three-week old son and netted his second on the season on the power play from Vanderploeg and Pretty Youngman 2:48 into the second.
Nearly four minutes later, Kings captain Keenan Ogle came crashing down Broadway to jam home a Jaks Faris shot attempt for his first goal in three games.
The offensive outburst was more than welcome, considering the Kings were without Kristian Ayoungman who was away with the flu, and rookie winger Kody Hammond who is day-to-day with a lower body injury after blocking a shot in Okotoks.
Also absent was their regular puck stopper Brady Hoover, who was attending a family matter. Hoover has worked tirelessly for the Kings this season, facing an average of 37 shots per game. The Kings called upon rookie Pierre Wiederhold to step in.
Wiederhold was steady and reliable when necessary, stopping 43 shots for his first career HJHL win. It was the first win by a Kings goaltender not named Hoover.
“Feels nice to get this win and put it behind me, especially seeing as I know so many of these guys from Okotoks,” said Wiederhold, who noted he knew a few of the Flyers forwards from his time with the Okotoks midget AA Oilers last season.
“As a rookie, coming through for us, coming off the bench like that is a character thing to do,” said alternate captain Brenden Moore.
With Hoover in net, the Kings were badly outshot 51-29 in Okotoks the night prior, losing 6-2 at Murray Arena. With the win, the Bisons jump to 13-8-0, five points ahead of the Kings in third.
“It was a tough loss. It was a good game in the first, but then we got in penalty trouble as we tend to do sometimes,” said Moore.
Pretty Youngman netted his 10th and leads the Kings with 28 points, and Cole Busslinger chipped in with his seventh on the power play from Jerry and Moore.
The Kings start December with a home-and-home series with the Coaldale Copperheads (14-5-1). First, the Kings travel Dec. 3 to Coaldale Arena, before hosting the Copperheads Dec. 4 (2 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre. It will be the first time this season the two teams square off. Last season, the Kings went 2-1-1 against the Copperheads with a minus-3 goal differential.

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The Spartan Early Bird tournament is set to rock the Strathmore High School gym as students and parents get their first glance at the Spartans boys’ basketball teams.
The senior team gets ready for the jump against the Calgary Islamic School Dec. 2 at 5:15 p.m.
It will be Matthew Laslo’s first season behind the Spartans bench, and when he calls a timeout, he is lucky enough to see some familiar faces.
He previously coached at Crowther Memorial Junior High School for five years. The current seniors played for Laslo back when they were in Grade 7.
“It’s really cool seeing how they have progressed from little Grade 7s to seniors; especially off the court, seeing them grow up,” said Laslo. “It’s cool to be coaching them again.”
The Spartans didn’t fare well in south central zones last year, mainly due to a tough draw. They lost out to the two teams that later met in the provincial final.
With last year’s anticlimactic finish, the Spartans are looking to run it back with seven returning players. Even those new to the senior program played for the junior varsity team last season.
“We have had a good week of practice, the guys came with intensity, wanting to learn and get better. It’s good having guys who are familiar with the program because we can go right into refining skills instead of working on the basics. Good teams do the little things well,” said Laslo.
The Spartans host the Springbank Community High School Phoenix Dec. 3 at 9 a.m. The junior varsity Spartans take on the Cremona School Cougars Dec. 2 (7 p.m.) and the Highwood High School Mustangs Dec. 3,

SP3D2

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The CFR Chemicals Bisons wrapped up their first half of the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) season with a pair of wins at the Strathmore Family Centre.
General manager Wayne Hansen has been with the club for 12 years and commented that this was the best start to any season he has seen.
Rightfully so: the Bisons (16-0-2) haven’t been on the wrong side of the box score through 18 games.
“It’s no secret that we have an extremely skilled team. Sometimes it’s tough being on top, you face all the number one goalies and teams game plan all week for you,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant. “I gotta give credit to the guys, we couldn’t have asked for a better first half. Their work ethic is still there at practice and they take pride in this record.”
The Bisons picked up their 16th win with a 6-3 dumping of the Canadian Athletic Club Gregg Distributors (5-10-2) Nov. 26 in a rematch of the 2014-15 AMHL final.
The Herd dominated from the drop of the puck; cycling the puck down low, unloading shots on net with continuous pressure.
Striking first was the Herd’s top line of Zach Huber, Jackson Salt and Payton Krebs. Huber notched his 11th goal seven minutes in from Salt and Krebs. Tyson Scott netted his fourth of the season 25 seconds later from Tyler Petrie and Kaden Hanas.
Liam Belcourt was sent away for cross checking, when Krebs broke up a d-to-d pass and was off on a breakaway. Gifted with an array of moves, Krebs kept it simple and sniped the five-hole.
Tarun Fizer buried his second game winner on the weekend when captain Brett Trentham found him camped out in front of the net. Wasting no time, Fizer piped a wrister right through Nate Reinhart with enough juice to squeak over the line, ending Reinhart’s day. The fourth-round selection by the Victoria Cougars leads the AMHL with four game-winning goals.
“It’s fun to score anytime. Tonight, Brett put the puck right on my stick; I wasn’t really expecting it to go in, but I’ll take it,” said Fizer, who played for the Rockyview Raiders bantam AAA last season and racked up 33 goals and 57 points in 36 games.
“If Tarun keeps playing his game in a straight line and simplifies it, he’s going to have a great season,” said Grant. “He’s one hell of a player.”
Blake Wells has points in four straight games and added a pair of snipes to put the finishing touches on the Distributors.
Adding to his highlight reel, Wells out-waited a pair of defenders and a sprawling netminder, circling through the slot and firing into an open cage. For his second goal, he caught a pass from Boaz Bassen in his skates, kicked it up to his stick and rifled it bar down.
After a slow start to the season, Wells has really heated up since undressing Calgary Flames netminder Benjamin Howard on a penalty shot back on Oct. 30.
“I think I am moving the puck better, my vision in the offensive zone is coming along and I’m playing really well with my line mates,” said Wells, who is tied for the team lead with 11 goals.
Ben Laidlaw picked up his league-leading 10th win when he stopped 22 of 24 shots. He was under siege in the second when the Distributors stormed out of the intermission with a pair of quick goals, but recovered nicely in the end.
The Bisons opened the weekend when they skated to a 2-1 victory over the Maple Leaf Athletic Club Beverly Optimists (5-11-1).
Wells and Fizer recorded the goals on plays from Joel Krahenbil, Cayde Augustine, Bassen and Trentham.
Returning to the blue ice was Hunter Young, who missed the previous seven games after sustaining an upper-body injury one practice. He recorded 14 saves as he moves to 5-0-1.
“It was great to see Hunts back in net. He was playing great before he got hurt and it can be tough coming off the bench and being thrown into the fire, but he was solid,” said Grant.
The Bisons travel to the Sherwood Park Arena Dec. 3 to take the Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (13-1-3). The Bisons will then take on the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Tigers (6-10-1) Dec. 4 at Akinsdale Arena.
The Bisons next home game is slated for Dec. 9 when the Calgary Royals (11-3-3) roll into the Strathmore Family Centre.

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

Riley Romashenko poured in a natural hat trick and an assist as the Wheatland Chiefs dominated the Cranbrook Dynamiters 9-1 Nov. 26 at Hussar Arena.
The local double-A midget team (12-1-1) are simply on a different level than the Dynamiters (0-17-0), outscoring them 32-3 during three South Central Alberta Hockey League (SCAHL) games this season.
Lucas Muenchrath registered an even-strength goal, a shorthanded marker and two assists, Scott Desserre added a pair of snipes and one assist, with other goals coming from Ryan McHarg and Brady Skiffington. Kelton Travis, Isaac Benoit, captain Ryan Bell and Chayse Hnatowich each supplied a pair of assists, while Wacy Sandum, Kale Clouston and Rylan Longmuir chipped in with one assist each.
Dynamiter netminder Nickell Robert was blasted, as the Chiefs outshot them 65-15.
The Chiefs now carry five skaters in the top 10 for points. Benoit sits second with 13 goals and 25 points, defenseman Travis is fourth with five goals and 20 points, Hnatowich (9G, 9A) and Romashenko (8G, 10A) are tied for sixth and Sandum occupies 10th with 12 goals and 17 points.
Goaltender Riley Stovka stopped 14 pucks for his fifth win. He owns a .890 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average.
“In a game like that, you can kind of get away from what we want to be doing and free-wheel a bit. We had a good practice Monday to get ready for our game Wednesday,” said Chiefs head coach Evan Barlow.
The Chiefs battled the NWCAA Bruins (4-0-2) Nov. 30 at the Max Bell Centre. The Chiefs return home when they host the Foothills Bisons (1-15-2) in a makeup game Dec. 3 at Hussar Arena. They are in action Dec. 4 when they take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes (6-6-3) at the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre.
The Chiefs are 2-0 against the Hurricanes, skating to 8-1 and 3-1 victories.

 

Braves capitalize on powerplays
The Wheatland Braves bashed the Airdrie Lightning White 6-1 Nov. 27 at Genesis Place Rink.
“That was probably our most consistent 60-minute, 200-foot effort offensively and defensively this season,” said Braves head coach Keith Klemmensen.
The local double-A peewee team (3-12-2) opened with three-straight power play goals from alternate captain Phillip Raycroft, Tyler Fairbairn and Ryder Many Grey Horses.
Raycroft added his second in the second period from Nolan Mahussier and Tate Yule, while Many Grey Horses supplied his second in the third period from Cyle Clayton and Mahussier.
“We have no shortage of guys that can step up offensively. We need guys to start stepping up on back checking if we want more results like this one,” said Klemmensen.
Cole Whelan picked up the remaining goal in the third from Josh Alberda and Adam Moore as the Lightning fall to 3-11-2.
The Braves outshot the Lightning 38-16 as Rhett Harten made 15 saves for his second win.
Up next for the Braves is a home-and-home series with the Bow Valley Timberwolves (8-2-2). The Braves travel to the Spray Lakes Sawmills Family Sports Centre Dec. 4. and complete the rematch Dec. 9 at Hussar Arena.

 

Warriors split games in medicine hat
The Wheatland Warriors (5-9-2) were in tough during their consolation final of the Hounds tournament in Medicine Hat.
The tourney stretched from Nov. 25-27 and was a chance for the team to bond during a rare overnight road trip.
“There were definitely a lot of good moments from the weekend. It was a little tough for guys at that age to play two games a day, but it was a good time,” said head coach Cody Brown. “There was lots of team bonding in the hotel and at the rink, plenty of quality time spent together.”
The Medicine Hat Hounds (5-10-0) harassed the local bantam double-A team 5-1 in the final game.
The Warriors exited the round robin 2-2, with wins over the Foothills Bisons (3-0) and Edmonton SSAC Anderson (9-2), and losses to the Winnipeg Sharks (5-0) and Beaumont Braves (3-2).
After two weekends away from SCAHL action, the crew is ready to get back to work when they hit the road to take on the Taber Golden Suns (11-4-1) Dec. 3 at the Taber Community Centre.
“It’s time to get back at it. Hopefully we have a couple good practices this week as we try and move back in the right direction and pick up a couple of wins before Christmas,” said Brown.
The Warriors will host the Central Alberta Selects (10-5-1) Dec. 4 (4:15 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.

SP5D2

Tyler Lowey
Times Reporter

 

The number one seeds from the Dodge and Chrysler division haven’t met in the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) final since the 2013-2014 season when the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs iced the Lloydminster Baker Hughes Bobcats 3-1 in the best-of-five series.
The two top teams tangle for the first time this weekend, when the CFR Chemicals Bisons (16-0-2) and Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (14-1-3) meet Dec. 3 at Sherwood Park Arena.
“We all know the standings, know who has done what and against who, so this is a great opportunity to see where we stand up against some of the better teams,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry.
“The Bisons are always one of the top teams,” said Kings head coach Leo Reagan. “We saw them a little bit during the showcase here a few weeks ago. We know they have a good offence with that Krebs kid and his line is playing well, but even with having the last change, I’m not one to match lines at this point in the year, I’m confident with whoever we roll out there.”
The Kings have been nearly as dominant as the Bisons this season. They are tied with the Bisons for the second-fewest goals allowed (35) and sit third in goals for with 75. Their top line of Eric Blanchette (14 G, 16 A), Graham Blanchette (13 G, 13 A) and Chase Lowry (10 G, 13 A) occupy three of the top five slots in league scoring.
In net, Ethan Kruger is tied for second with two shutouts, and carries a .926 save percentage and 2.00 goals against average.
Bisons captain Brett Trentham hasn’t paid too much attention to the standings and leaderboards; he remains focused on the task at hand.
“Points are just points. We probably have more guys overall in the leaderboard,” said Trentham, who is correct: the Bisons boast five skaters in the top 30, while the Kings have four. “I don’t really read too much into that, I have the utmost confidence in our guys to go there and get the job done.”
It might be beneficial for the Bisons to face the Kings in their barn first. The Strathmore Family Centre allows the Bisons to practice on a smaller surface, and this marks the final significant regular season road trip for the herd.
“We have been playing on smaller rinks all year and we have been successful. We will practice in the blue arena this week to understand the width a little bit better,” said Henry. “It will be nice to get the road trips over and done with.”
While the Bisons can prepare for the closer quarters, the staff doesn’t have anything but box scores and league-wide hubbub to go off of.
Bisons centre Payton Krebs sits fourth in league scoring with 10 goals and 23 points in four fewer games, played with five Kings on Team Alberta during the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup last October.
“There might be a few things I can say on the bench during the game, but it’s hockey and so much has probably changed from then to now,” said Krebs. “If we play like we have all season, get off to a good start, roll all four lines strong, we will do well.”
Krebs still stays in contact with Team Alberta teammates Ethan Browne, Matthew Robertson, Carter Chorney, Jake Lee and Bryce Bader, but hasn’t had too much back-and-forth about the upcoming tilt.
The Kings might have been carried by the Blanchette line early, but the roster deepens with a trio of first-round picks from the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft.
Robertson was selected seventh overall by the Edmonton Oil Kings, Browne was taken 14th overall by the Everett Silvertips and Lee was picked four spots later by the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Don’t let the Dodge division standings fool you — the Kings are the only team above .500 — the Kings have taken care of business and played the other top-ranked teams from the Chrysler division.
The Kings are 1-0-1 against the second place Calgary Buffaloes and trimmed the third-place Calgary Royals 5-4 back on Oct. 30. The Bisons have yet to play the Buffs or Royals.
“Honestly, we don’t think about what they do, it’s what we do. We need to play our game, push on in an energetic manner and force them to react to us,” said Henry. “It’s going to be a fun game. Our guys are excited for it.”
The Bisons and Kings won’t meet again until Feb. 18, the second last game of the season, when the Kings come down to the Strathmore Family Centre.