- Category: Sports
On the ice, Matt Thomson is a menace; a wrecking ball with a mustache. Off the ice, he is a gentle giant with a mustache, and now a new dad.
Alora Quinn Thomson was born early in the morning Apr. 30, weighing 4.5-pounds. She arrived a month ahead of schedule when doctors couldn’t find her stomach during a routine ultrasound appointment.
“We were already planning on an early due date, but after the appointment, they decided to induce labour that day,” said Emily Wegner, Thomson’s girlfriend of two years.
Alora was born with gastroschisis, a non-fatal birth defect occurring roughly one in every 2,000 births. Babies are born with their intestines sticking out through the baby’s abdominal wall.
“It was stressful because there was so much unknown, but at the same time I was excited for her to be born,” said Thomson, who was working when Wegner entered labour. He quickly raced home, showered, changed and headed over to the Foothills Medical Centre.
Wegner was in labour for more than five hours until Alora decided she was ready to enter the world. Waiting in the wing was a team from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), who quickly whisked her away to the NICU where she was bandaged up and waited for an ambulance to be taken to Alberta Children’s Hospital (ACH) in Calgary.
Alora immediately entered surgery and it wasn’t until two days later that Thomson and Wegner could hold their daughter for the first time.
“It was easily one of the most emotional moments of my life,” recalled Wegner.
For the tentative future, Thomson and Wegner were required to stay at the Ronald McDonald House while Alora remained in the ACH to get worked on.
Typically a long waiting list for entry, two openings popped up at Ronald McDonald House, allowing Thomson and Wegner to move in.
“The people there were so welcoming and caring. I’m very appreciative of what they do there,” said Thomson, who only spent nights there, as he had to work during the day.
The Ronald McDonald House provided meals in a central location for families, and counsellors were constantly available to talk to.
Nurses and doctors at the hospital estimated it would take Alora anywhere from six to 12 months to fully recover. But she was sent home nearly five weeks after being born.
Cherise Conway is a nurse at the hospital and was incredibly impressed by Alora’s recovery time.
“It’s tough to tell how the baby will do from the beginning because every baby is different,” said Conway. “She took the food pretty quickly, quicker than normal. Once the baby starts feeding, she should be good to go. She did way better than we expected.”
“Some of the other nurses kept telling us how impressed they were,” said Thomson. “One even said that we probably got a little bit of help from someone up there.”
That someone might have been Quinton Peplinski, one of Thomson’s closest friends for the past nine years.
Peplinski passed away in a car crash five minutes from home Mar. 26, nearly a month before Alora was born, the same day as Wegner’s birthday and her baby shower.
Thomson, who came up with the name Alora, also decided it would be a great way to honour his friend by using the name Quinn as Alora’s middle name,
“When I told (Quinton’s parents) it brought a smile to their faces and a happy tear,” said Thomson. “Quinton was a great guy; he was funny and really smart. He probably would have been a millionaire by the time he was 30.”
Alora conveniently arrived in the offseason for both parents. Wegner is a figure skating coach in Nanton and Thomson is thriving in his third season with the Strathmore Wheatland Kings. As a bulking winger, Thomson is second in team scoring with 13 goals and 23 points through 19 games.
“I never wanted Matt to not play hockey. His schedule isn’t that demanding and Alora makes it out to most of his home games,” said Wegner.
“She is a hit with the moms in the crowd,” added Thomson.
At home, Alora is a very happy baby. Fully healthy, she is moving around, bouncing a lot as she fumbles around learning to crawl.
“Matt is a really great dad. She definitely prefers him over me — maybe because he’s only changed about six diapers since she has been home,” said Wegner.
Back working, Thomson spends as much time with his daughter as he can. That’s also where he came up with the idea for a toy drive.
“Matt kind of just walked into our office one day out of the blue and said he wanted to do a toy drive for the Ronald McDonald House for Christmastime. We all loved the idea and did everything possible to make this happen for him,” said Kings sponsorship/game day organizer Tara Busslinger. “I’ve known Matt for about seven years, and it is night and day how much he has matured since becoming a dad.”
Busslinger reached out to Sarah Heibein, the community events coordinator for the Ronald McDonald House, and began to plan the toy drive.
“We were thrilled when we heard about his idea. We have 23 rooms here with lots of kids in need for toys to brighten their lives,” said Heibein. “We have kids here from the prenatal stages all the way up to 18 years old.”
The Kings will host “Fill a Dodge Truck Box with New, Unwrapped Toys” on Dec. 10 when the Kings welcome the Okotoks Bisons to the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.
Anyone showing up with a new toy gets in free. There is no limit to how many toys people can bring. Because it is already a Shoot To Win night, there will be a Dodge truck parked outside the arena – fans can head over to the truck, donate a toy and they will get a stamp to enter the game.
“I would just like to thank my parents, Emily’s parents, the people at the Ronald McDonald House and the Kings for all their efforts in making this happen,” said Thomson.
“This was all Matt’s idea and it really impressed me,” said Wegner. “It is unimaginable thinking about all those kids having to spend Christmas there.”
Thomson and a crew of Kings plan to deliver the toys to the Ronald McDonald House following the toy drive.
- Category: Sports
The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks basketball programs are anxiously waiting for a new season on the hardwood.
The senior girls squad opens the season first as they host their tournament, beginning Dec. 2.
“It’s exciting to see how our girls will do. It’ll be a little nerve racking playing our first games at home, but we are looking forward to hitting the ground running,” said Hawks head coach Bradley Everett. “It’ll be our first good look to see what our strengths and weaknesses are, and then go from there.”
The Hawks take on the Didsbury High School Dragons Dec. 2 at 3 p.m. From there, they will play in the morning Dec. 3; exactly when depends on their result in the opener. They are guaranteed three games, with the championship slated for 6:30 p.m. later that day.
Everett is set to begin his first season as head coach and will start a little shorthanded. Gone are key players from last year’s squad; Mackenzie-Lynn Desjardin and Kendall Russell. Meanwhile, he has a pair of players who will begin the season sidelined with injuries.
“I liked what I’ve seen from these girls so far in practice. We are a smaller team, we are going to play fast and work hard. They have the attitude to do well and work together, and our success will depend on that,” said Everett.
The team is comprised of four seniors, three Grade 11s and six Grade 10s.
Senior boys set for tip
Meanwhile, the senior boys wrapped up their tryouts and began installing schemes.
“We’ve got a lot of new players this year and a lot of great athletes. Right now, we are just working on new offensive and defensive systems for our guys,” said Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert.
The boys’ tournament doesn’t kick off until later in the month, but will break ground with a few games before then.
“We got guys who are going to take the ball to the hoop aggressively. We have a couple of shooters too; it’s a good balance,” said Jalbert, who is entering his fourth year behind the bench.
- Category: Sports
Following last weekend’s narrow 3-2 loss to the Stettler Lightning, Strathmore Wheatland Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley said it would be nice to win a game for their goaltender (Brady Hoover) for a change.
Hoover has been the backbone for the Kings despite getting outshot nearly every game. He was solid in net during the Kings best weekend of the season when they knocked off the number one and two seeds from the northern division of the Heritage Junior Hockey League.
The Kings (7-9-3) cooked the Mountainview Colts 6-3 Nov. 19 at the Didsbury Recreation Complex, and defeated the Airdrie Techmation Thunder 4-3 Nov. 20 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“He has been there for us every game, win or lose. In my opinion, he’s one of the best goalies in the league,” said winger Jaks Faris.
Hoover didn’t have to be flashy. The majority of shots came from distance; he calmly snatched them up or used his lower body to redirect the puck into the corner for clearance.
The Kings sit 4-5 against teams below .500 and entered the weekend 1-6 against teams over .500. These were undoubtedly two of the biggest wins for the Kings this season.
“Now they know they can compete against the top teams. There’s nothing stopping them now,” said Stoodley.
The Kings were launching from all angles, trying to get a rebound by any means necessary.
“Shadoe came in during the first intermission and told us we needed to shoot and crash the net more,” said Faris.
All four King goals were courtesy of juicy rebound opportunities, including the winner from Faris.
Clinging to a 3-2 lead into the third, Zachary Meadows came streaking down the left wing with Faris as a trailer. Firing low and hard, the puck popped out to Faris, who made no mistake.
“Jaks has been working hard all year and now he’s getting rewarded for it,” said Stoodley. “If he keeps working hard, they will keep going in for him.”
Faris has compiled seven goals and 11 points in 19 games in his second season with the Kings. Last year as a rookie, he was held pointless in 14 games.
“He’s come a long ways from last year,” said Kings captain Keenan Ogle. “He’s working well with (Matt) Thomson out there. They are getting the puck moving and really making things happen.”
The Kings outshot the opposition 45-31, only the fifth time they have accomplished the feat through 19 games.
Thomson was in on a 2-on-1 with Meadows in the first period on a similar play to Faris’s winner. Thomson elected to keep and shoot, with Meadows in front of the net to stuff in the rebound.
Matt Brelis chipped in his first of the season from Brenden Moore at the 16:38 mark in the first period. Kody Hammond tucked in a rebound from Cole Busslinger at 15:17 in the second, with Ogle picking up an assist.
“We’re finally playing as a unit,” said Hoover. “Earlier this year, we would only play like that for 10, 15 minutes. Now we are getting that effort for 55 minutes and it’s coming together.”
Hoover was maxed out, starting both games; recording 28 saves against the division-leading Thunder (14-4-2) and 40 saves against the Colts (13-3-2).
“Last night he stood on his head for us and gave us a chance to win,” said Stoodley. “If we keep putting pucks in the other net, we know he will keep doing his thing and then that’s how we get rolling.”
Saddled with only four defensemen and 10 forwards, the Kings still picked up the convincing win over the Colts on the road.
The fifth-year vet Hoover lowered his goals against average to 3.94 and picked up his seventh win in net.
The Okotoks Bisons (11-8-0) will host the Kings at Murray Arena, Nov. 25. The Bisons are the other team above .500 that the Kings defeated when they clubbed them 6-4 during the home opener Sept. 18 in Strathmore.
The Kings wrap up November when the High River Flyers (6-13-0) enter the Strathmore Family Centre Nov. 26. Puck drop is set for 8:15 p.m.
- Category: Sports
Both boys and girls senior volleyball seasons with the Strathmore High School Spartans ended over the weekend as they both lost in the South Central Zone tournament.
Playing at Brooks High School, the Sr. boys lost in the final to the Springbank Phoenix 2-0 (21-25, 21-25).
“It was disappointing to not achieve our goal of winning zones again this year,” said head coach Cole Hintz. “We played well and it wasn’t as much a matter of us losing as Springbank played at the level they needed to win.
“We played confident and composed, but Springbank found a level we haven’t seen from them all year. We were playing our best volleyball when it mattered but the result didn’t go our way.”
Rolling through the six round robin games undefeated, the Spartans pasted the W.H Croxford High School Cavaliers 2-0 (25-20, 25-20) in the semifinal.
The Sr. girls didn’t fare much better in Airdrie.
The Spartans were slated third coming out of the round robin with wins over the Highwood High School Mustangs 2-0 and the Olds High School Spartans 2-1. They dropped round robin matches to the host Bert Church High School Chargers 2-1 and to the Cochrane High School Cobras 2-1.
“The girls played some of their most consistent volleyball of the season, almost upsetting two ranked teams in the tournament,” said head coach Randy Moncks.
The Spartans crossed over to play the Brooks High School Buffalos and lost in straight sets.
“We struggled with our passing and had trouble running a consistent offence, eventually losing both sets,” said Moncks.
The junior boys wrapped up their season in their South Central Zone tourney at W.H. Croxford.
Finishing fifth, the Spartans downed Chestermere High School Lakers 2-0 and clipped the Cochrane Cobras 2-1, but lost to the Holy Trinity Academy Knights 2-1 and lost their crossover match to the Springbank Phoenix 2-1.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Community Football Association Badgers came up a little short seeking their first provincial title since 2010, but they took the time Nov. 18 to honour a very successful season.
The senior, bantam and peewee teams were all in attendance at the Strathmore Civic Centre as the top players from each program were recognized with awards.
The peewee Badgers finished 6-0 and captured the Central Peewee Football League (CPWFL) title. The senior Badgers ran through the Mountain View Football Conference (MVFC) 5-0-1 and lost in the league championship game to the Innisfail Cyclones. The bantam Badgers went 3-1 and lost in the Central Football League (CFL) consolation final.
The Jensen brothers pulled in a pair of MVP awards for their respective teams: quarterback Reid Jensen was named MVP for the senior team and Dawson Jensen was named MVP for the peewee program. Brandon Middlemiss was elected MVP for the bantams.
League all-stars were unveiled with plenty of Badgers finding their way onto the list.
Reilly Baham, Alex Nwoye, Josh Middlemiss, Zachary Hiscocks and Jensen were all-stars for the MVFC. Badgers making their way onto the CFL all-star list: Luke Henry, linebacker Riley Southern, Max Sims, Malikia Henry and running back Angelina Palardy. The peewee’s defence stifled teams all year and they were rewarded with the most all-star selections, including quarterback Brady Johansen, Jack Warrack, Riley Wiebe, Daniel Barbas, Jensen, Noel Langlois, running backs Jordan Stewart and Austin McInnis.
The SCFA also recognized players moving on up to the next level after their three years of participation.
Graduating the peewee program are Noah Agboro, Jensen, Langlois, Ty Stone, Warrack, Wiebe and Brigham Zaugg. Players moving from bantam to senior are Riley Southern and John Langlois. There are no graduating players from the senior program.
The Badger awards were handed out to players who exemplify what it means to be a Badger: players with leadership, proficiency, having a positive attitude and dedication.
The winners from the senior program were Bahan, Jensen, Noah Leys, Nwoye, Middlemiss, Zach Palardy, Austin Smith, Anthony Timmons and Delray Yellow Old Woman. The bantam team recognized Nicolas Heaton, Ryker McKinnon, Henry, Southern, Sims and Owen Grill. Peewee winners were Adam Greenhill, Zaugg, Devin Greene, Agboro, Chloe MacMillan-Shaw, Bret Wright, Sean Grill, Riley Shea and Logan Van Sickle.
Individual award winners: defensive line of the year – Riley Wiebe (peewee), Malikia Henry (bantam), Zachary Hiscocks (senior); offensive line of the year – Jack Warrack (peewee), Kamaya Lovig (bantam), Josh Middlemiss (senior); defensive back of the year – Noel Langlois (peewee), Luke Henry (bantam), Reilly Bahan (senior); offensive back of the year – Brady Johnansen (peewee), Angelina Paladry (bantam), Reilly Bahan (senior); most improved player – Brigham Zaugg (peewee), Chayton Coddington (bantam), Jase Westgard (senior); rookie of the year – Liam Braniff (peewee), Cooper Nelso (bantam), Reid Jensen (senior).
- Category: Sports
The CFR Chemicals Bisons finished their last long road trip of the regular season with a pair of convincing wins.
The Bisons (14-0-2) left early Friday morning for their tilt against the Grande Peace Ernie’s Sports Storm (5-9-2) in non-divisional Alberta Midget Hockey League action Nov. 19.
“It’s definitely nice to get our big northern road trips out of the way,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “It will be nice to have home games and a couple short trips left until playoffs”
The Bisons got their money’s worth for the seven and a half hour bus ride, as they ditched the Storm 6-3 at Chris McMillian Arena.
The Storm were fresh in the Bisons minds; the two teams tangoed Nov. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre, as the Bisons defeated them soundly 5-1.
“We knew what they were capable of and we knew that we had just beaten them, so we thought we had an advantage over them going in,” said Bisons forward Blake Wells, who recorded a goal and two assists.
Landon Melzer’s second goal of the year at the 3:32 mark of the second period proved to be the winner.
“It was a fairly similar game to the first time we played them. We came ready to play, weathered the storm in the first period and once we got it going, we took the lead in the first and we were fine,” said Henry.
The Bisons led 3-1 after the first frame on goals from Tyler Petrie, Tyson Scott and Wells.
The line of Scott, Petrie and Kaden Hanas has been clicking all season. Petrie is tied for second on the team with nine goals.
A pair of forwards were away from the team, which jumbled up the lines a little: Hanas was away with resting an injury and Payton Krebs was called up to play with the Kootenay Ice (4-13-5-1) of the Western Hockey League. Affiliated player Mark Zachary took Hanas’ spot and fit in nicely.
Zachary, 15, stands 6-foot-3 and currently plays for the AC Avalanche midget AAA, where he has five goals and 14 points in 11 games.
“I thought he played well. He is a big guy, strong on the puck, good skater and very coordinated for his size,” said Petrie.
Krebs is eligible for two more games with the Ice until the Bisons season ends. The Ice have been in talks with the Bisons about tentatively calling Krebs back up when the Ice travel to Washington to take on the Spokane Chiefs (8-8-4-1) and the Tri-City Americans (14-8-2-0) Jan. 20 and 21. Krebs’ older brother Dakota is a defenseman for the Americans.
“Payton is a special player and does a lot of things out there that other players in this league can’t do,” said Ice GM Jeff Chynoweth. “He has a bright future and we are excited for him.”
Zach Huber is second on the Bisons with 20 points and shifted to Krebs’ spot as top line centre, while affiliated player Kale Clouston filled in on the wing.
The Moose Jaw Warriors (13-4-4-0) drafted Clouston in the fifth round, 94th overall during the 2015 WHL Bantam draft. Currently, Clouston plays for the Wheatland Chiefs double-A midget team (11-1-1), where he has five goals and 11 points in 11 games.
Joel Krahenbil added his third goal and Huber contributed one of his own as the Bisons outshot the Storm 33-25. Ben Laidlaw turned away 22 shots in net.
The Bisons wrapped up their road trip with a 2-1 victory over the MLAC Beverly Optimists (5-9-1) Nov. 20 at Bill Hunter Arena in Edmonton.
The Optimists led 1-0 after one, but a pair of goals from Brandon Machado and Boaz Bassen sealed the deal. The Bisons outshot the Optimists 35-28.
Affiliated player Riley Stovka made his debut for the Bisons. Laidlaw had an equipment issue in the first period and was forced to exit the game. Stovka came in for three minutes and made one save. Stovka is teammates with Clouston on the Chiefs where he is 4-1 with a .890 save percentage and an impressive 2.54 goals against average.
Laidlaw relieved Stovka later in the first and piled up 27 saves. The Bisons other netminder, Hunter Young, is still day-to-day, nursing a concussion. Laidlaw now leads the league with nine wins in 10 starts.
The Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (13-1-2) fell 4-1 to the CAC Gregg Distributors (5-9-2) Nov. 19 at Bill Hunter Arena, which means the Bisons are the only team undefeated.
“We check out what happens in the league every night, not because we are scoreboard watching, but we just have interest in the league,” said Henry. “We did our job, we can’t worry so much about what the other teams are doing.”
The Bisons return to the Strathmore Family Centre this weekend as they host the Optimists on Nov. 25 at 8 p.m. and the Distributors Nov. 26 at 5:15 p.m.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Braves had no problem putting the puck in the net, but several defensive breakdowns cost them against the Red Deer Motors, as they fell 8-6 in a barnburner Nov. 20 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The local double-A peewee team (2-12-2) opened with the ice still wet 1:02 into the first, when Jack Slemp sent home his third goal of the campaign from Nolan Mahussier and Adam Moore.
They jumped out to a 2-0 lead on the third place Motors (7-2-3) when Cyle Clayton added a tally in the first from Garrin Gosling and Grady Stovka.
Mahussier finished with a season-high four points, as he supplied a pair of goals in the second period from Tate Yule, Ryder Many Grey Horses and Slemp. He capped off the hat trick in the third on a sweet feed from Many Grey Horses.
“Nolan and Ryder have benefitted from Slemp’s efforts,” said Braves head coach Keith Klemmesen. “Slemp works hard and he is the straw that stirs the drink for that line.”
Unfortunately, the Motors piled on three straight goals, including a short-handed marker from Nolan Larson to close out the second, taking a 4-3 lead into the break.
“We just quit working. We are successful when we attack the offensive blue line with speed,” said Klemmesen. “The fifth goal against us was a direct reflection of that. Our winger carried the puck to the blue line with no speed, turned the puck over and couldn’t get back on defence.”
Yule added his second point on the night when he drove home his third on the power play from Many Grey Horses.
Mahussier and Many Grey Horses combined for seven points.
“Those two are working well together,” said Klemmesen. “They have a lot of talent and hockey ability, but it’s about more than just production. We need to be strong in our own end and strong entering the offensive zone as well.”
The Motors pulled away with four straight goals to close the third.
“We have backed off the effort we had up in Sylvan Lake a few weeks ago,” said Klemmesen. “Anybody here can tell you that you need a 60-minute effort or these games get tough.”
The Braves tied the Lethbridge Hurricanes White 3-3 Nov. 18 at the Henderson Ice Centre. Trailing 2-0 after the first frame, Gosling got the Braves going with his third snipe of the season with 2:27 remaining.
The Braves closed out the third with goals from Cole Tweit and Tyler Fairbairn. Slemp assisted on both markers.
Matthew Dovichak recorded 24 saves in net, moving to 1-6-1 on the season. The Hurricanes move to 7-5-2.
Chiefs await make-up game
The midget Chiefs (11-1-1) were scheduled to faceoff with the Foothills Bisons (1-13-2) Nov. 20 at the Strathmore Family Centre, but a scheduling conflict booted them off the ice. The two teams are still in talks for a makeup date.
On tap for the Chiefs are the lowly Cranbrook Dynamiters (0-15-0) at Hussar Arena, Nov. 26 (2 p.m.). The Chiefs have scolded the Dynamiters in two meetings, outscoring the Kootenay crew 23-2.
“We are going to keep going with the same process. As long as the boys show up, do their job and have a strong work ethic, we should be fine,” said Chiefs head coach Evan Barlow.
The Chiefs travel to the Max Bell Centre in Calgary Nov. 30 (6:15 p.m.) for a mid-week tilt with the NWCAA Bruins (2-0-2).
Warriors ready for Friday
The bantam Warriors were off over the weekend as they hosted the Wheatland fundraiser at the Civic Centre.
They return to action this weekend when they take on the Foothills Bisons Nov. 25 in the Medicine Hat Minor Hockey tournament.
- Category: Sports
Destiny Stevens returned from Las Vegas last week without any new shiny belt buckles from the Indian National Finals Rodeo (INFR) that took place Nov. 8-12.
It was her second-straight berth in the INFR where she competed in the breakaway roping and barrel racing, following a dominating season in the Indian Rodeo Cowboys Association and the Northern Alberta Native Cowboys Association.
“I didn’t have the results I wanted in the arena this year,” said Stevens. “I hit a barrel and missed the roping in the breakaway, which took me out of the short go Saturday.”
The competition took place at the South Point Equestrian Center, where Stevens finished with a time of 21:029 and 20.948 seconds, which added up to 41.977 seconds, good enough for 29th in the barrels.
Stevens logged a ‘no time’ in the breakaway, which was tough considering it was her favourite of the two events.
“I left Vegas proud of myself for making the finals and learning a lot about competition under pressure,” said Stevens. “I have now completed my junior career in rodeo and move on to the ladies events next year. I have competed against the best from across North America and have made some amazing friends along the way.”
She didn’t leave Vegas completely empty handed: she managed to haul in $250 for winning a breakaway jackpot competition at Horseman’s Park in Las Vegas just prior to the INFR.
Stevens made the two-and-a-half day, 20-hour trek accompanied by her parents, brother Hayze and horses Tom Tom and Becca.
She would like to thank everyone for supporting and following her rodeo career.
This winter, she will be competing in the Wheatland Cowboys and Cowgirls Rodeo Association out of the Lausen Indoor Arena, with the finals running in March.
She will also be competing in jackpot roping events until the snow melts, when she returns to the rodeo trail with the goal of heading back to Vegas a year from now in the ladies breakaway.
- Category: Sports
CFR Chemicals Bisons goaltender Hunter Young was sidelined a week and a half ago after taking a slapshot in the mask, resulting in a concussion. The injury opened the door for hometown kid Ty Tarvyd.
“I didn’t think much of it. I just treated it like any other hockey game,” said Tarvyd.
His first start was a successful one as the Bisons brushed back the Lloydminster Bandit Energy Bobcats 6-3 Nov. 12 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Bisons (12-0-2) called up Tarvyd last weekend for the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) showcase in Sherwood Park.
“We were going to try and fit him in last weekend, but the opportunity wasn’t there,” said Bisons assistant coach Mike Langen. “Ty has been out to practice a few times and we had full confidence in him tonight.”
Tarvyd is currently the top goaltender in the South Central Alberta Hockey League. Playing for the Wheatland Athletic Association Chiefs, Tarvyd has posted a George Hainsworth-ian 0.87 goals against average, 0.96 save percentage and a 6-0-1 record.
He was able to get his first few saves early on shots from the perimeter.
His first test came in the first period when winger Zach Huber was sent away for slashing.
“I wasn’t intimidated, it was just like any other penalty kill, except these guys were a little bit bigger,” said Tarvyd.
Following a scoreless second, Bobcats forward Easton Haygarth was chopped at on a breakaway and was rewarded with a penalty shot.
“I’ve had plenty of penalty shots before. I’m not the biggest guy in the world, so I just try to be as aggressive as I can and cut down the angles,” said Tarvyd. “The key is to be patient and let them make the first move.”
Tarvyd challenged, coming out more than 10 feet in front of his crease. Haygarth tried a handful of moves and lost control of the puck.
However, Haygarth would get his revenge the next shift. Blake Fletcher teed one up from the point and the rebound kicked right out to Haygarth at the side, who had a gaping net to shoot at, tying it at two.
That was also the second goal that the Bisons top line of Payton Krebs, Jackson Salt and Huber were on the ice for.
“We just stayed calm, stuck to our game and knew things were going to go our way eventually,” said Salt, who netted the third goal on a rebound opportunity from Krebs and Huber. It was the second goal of the night for the first line; Huber popped on in at the end of the first period.
For Salt, these games carry a little more weight than others. The Bobcats shut out the Bisons, sweeping them in three games during in the AMHL final last season.
“The six guys in that locker room who were there last year and the way it finished, these wins mean a little extra for sure,” said Langen.
“It’s all about the logo. Every time I see it, I just want to pound the crap out of them,” said Salt, who is tied for 10th in league scoring with five goals and 14 points.
Boaz Bassen, Tyson Scott, Blake Wells and Brandon Machado each found the back of the net. It was Machado’s first game back since missing some time with the flu.
Tarvyd’s teammate on the Chiefs, Kelton Travis, was also called up to fill in for Cayde Augustine, who was out with a hand injury after blocking a shot the night earlier, as the Bobcats slip to 3-10-1.
The Bisons laid out the Grand Prairie Ernies Sports Strom 5-1 Nov. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Ben Laidlaw started between the pipes and picked up his league-tying seventh win, recording 19 saves. He owns a 0.937 save percentage and a 1.88 GAA.
Bassen opened the scoring and finished with a strong weekend with his new line mates Wells and Krahenbil. It shouldn’t be a shock that the Peoria, Ill. native has started rolling; he just witnessed his Chicago Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years.
Other goals came from Brett Trentham, Wells, Scott and Salt, with assists to Wells, Krahenbil, Salt, Landon Melzer and Tarun Fizer.
The Storm slide to 5-7-2 in fourth place in the Dodge division.
For the Bisons, it’s a rematch with the Ernies Sports Strom Nov. 19 at the Grande Peace Athletic Club, followed by another road game Nov. 20 against the MLAC Beverly Optimists (5-8-1) at Bill Hunter Arena.
- Category: Sports
One of Canada’s greatest bull riders returned from the Canadian Finals Rodeo feeling a little disappointed and empty-handed.
“This is the greatest place to be for any cowboy,” said Schiffner. “But, truthfully, it was a little disappointing this time. Everyone wants to go up (there) with the thoughts of becoming a Canadian champion and it didn’t work out.”
For Schiffner, it was his record-smashing 16th trip to the CFR, as he was searching for an elusive third national title.
Schiffner was bucked off his rides during the Nov. 9, Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 evening shows. He thought he racked up a solid ride Nov. 13, but was disqualified for a slap violation.
“The bulls are athletes too. They know what’s coming and they want to show off. I made a few little mistakes and you can’t do that at this level,” said Schiffner.
The 36-year-old still got the better of a pair of bulls. He registered an 86, good enough for second place during the Nov. 12 matinee ride, and a 79.50 on Nov. 10, good enough for eighth.
Jordan Hansen of Calgary was crowned the Canadian champion and the CFR Aggregate Winner.
“I know Jordan pretty good and I’m happy for him. He worked hard all year and came off an injury, so it was nice to see him succeed, You know, we are all friends and competitors. It might be an individual sport, but we have all leaned on each other at one point in time,” said Schiffner, who walked away with $9,164.35 in prize money from the CFR.
Going forward, Schiffner will head to Regina for a small rodeo next week, and then he plans to take some much-needed time off to rest up for next year.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School Spartans were in tough as they drew the number one ranked Cochrane High School Cobras for their Tier III football provincial quarterfinal matchup.
Tied 7-7 after the first quarter, the Cobras dominated down the stretch, downing the Spartans 71-14.
Still tied in the second, the Spartans were marching when quarterback Isaac Wegner was drilled and forced to leave the game with an upper body injury. With Wegner on the bench for the second quarter, the Cobras struck with a pair of touchdowns, seizing control.
“They are a really good team. We were hanging in with them for a bit, but then they flexed their muscles and took over,” said Spartans head coach Travis Gorksi.
Wegner dove in for a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line and Kevin Agboro ran one in from five yards out for the Spartans two touchdowns.
This marked the end of a very successful season for the Spartans and the best in Gorski’s three seasons with the school.
“The boys laid the groundwork for a tradition of excellence. They set the expectations high for this program. It was nice to see them get rewarded for all their hard work they put in this season. I’m really proud of these guys,” said Gorski.
The Spartans should be able to run it back with 27 of their 36 players eligible to return. However, the graduating players will be missed.
Wegner and one of his favourite targets Isaiah Simwamu, defensive tackle Garrett Gatto, linebacker Misi Varga will be moving on.
“Isaac had a remarkable season. He came in with no QB experience and had an MVP campaign for us. Isaiah didn’t have a lot of confidence last year but turned into a scoring threat this year,” said Gorski. “This was my first full group of graduating players that started the same year I got here. There were so many spots of growth from when they were in Grade 10 until now. They have turned into some fine young men.”
Rounding out the graduating class are Austin Wasut, Kashtin Winnipeg and Chevy Winnipeg.
The Cobras now take on the Cardston Cougars in the semifinal and will play the winner of the Holy Rosary Raiders and St. Albert Skyhawks in the provincial final.
- Category: Sports
Keenan Ogle came a knob-save away from tying the game with 5.3 seconds remaining in the third.
Unfortunately, Jordan McCallum’s knob deflected the puck out of play, preserving the Stettler Lightning’s 3-2 lead over the Strathmore Wheatland Kings during Heritage Junior Hockey League action Nov. 12 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“Matt (Thomson) was working hard in the corner and made a tough pass to me,” said Ogle. “The puck skipped a little bit and it just went off his knob. It would have been real nice, but that’s the way she goes sometimes.”
The Kings (5-9-3) best effort came in desperation time in the third. Just prior to Ogle’s glorious opportunity, McCallum robbed Kristian Ayoungman on the doorstep on a sweet feed from Brooker Pretty Youngman with 1:35 remaining and the net pulled.
But the Kings were more concerned with how they started as opposed to how they finished.
“I don’t think we came out with our best effort. Yeah, their goalie made a bunch of saves, but we have to bear down and come ready to play if we want to capitalize on our chances,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley.
The Lightning (7-7-1) entered five points out of the final playoff spot in the north division. They also clipped the Kings 7-6 back on Sept. 30 in Stettler.
“It doesn’t matter to me or the team who we play,” said Ayoungman. “We need to come out ready to play and start picking up these points.”
The turning point came during a three-minute stretch from the end of the first overlapped with the start of the second period.
With 3.1 ticks on the clock, Lightning rookie defenseman Bryce Cornelissen piped home his third goal on a blast from the point.
The ice was still damp from the intermission when the Kings hottest sniper took over.
Ayoungman calmly walked into the slot and rifled the puck top shelf. After a slow start to the season, Ayoungman now has points in eight of 11 games.
“He’s starting to fly around out there,” said Stoodley. “He has lots of skill, lots of speed, he works hard and now the bounces are starting to go his way. That’s important; we are going to need a go-to guy to get points for us.”
Twenty-nine seconds later, Kings forward Jake Faris took an elbowing penalty. The Lightning capitalized, when Dylan Houston buried his 10th from Logan Davidson and Cornelissen.
“That power play goal was pretty big for us,” said Lightning head coach Gavin Brandl. “You could see our bench got a little deflated once they tied it early in the second. That was a big swing in the momentum for us.”
Faris got one back for the Kings at the 12:18 mark when Thomson came streaking down the left wing, shook Lightning defender Tyler Wagner and set up Faris for a wide open one-timer.
The Kings have been outshot in 14 of their 18 games, and once again leaned on Brady Hoover to keep them afloat.
Hoover was outstanding in his 32-save performance, which is his average workload through 14 starts. Hoover is second in the league for shots faced with 503. The Three Hills product carries a 4.07 goals against average and a 0.891 save percentage in his fifth season (second with the Kings).
Matt Sylvester snuck one past the Kings masked man when he pulled a Brett Hull, launching a one-timer on the power play from one knee with just over two minutes remaining in the second.
The Kings narrowly missed their opportunity for their first weekend sweep, after they shelved the Three Hills Thrashers 3-1 Nov. 11 at Three Hills Centennial Arena.
Defenseman Andrew Sample returned to the lineup from a shoulder injury and found the back of the net. Zachary Meadows added a goal and an assist and Pretty Youngman supplied the winner at the 9:02 mark in the second from Hayden Vanderploeg.
Up next for the Kings are two games against the top teams from the northern division. First, a road game at the Didsbury Recreation Complex against the Mountain View Colts (12-2-2). The Colts trimmed the Kings 5-2 Oct. 1 in Strathmore.
Their next home game goes Nov. 20 against the Airdrie Techmation Thunder (13-3-2). The matinee is set for 2 p.m. at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Thunder iced the Kings 7-6 in overtime back on Oct. 14 at Ron Ebbesen Arena.
- Category: Sports
The Twitter account for the Wheatland Chiefs flooded timelines with updates during their 22-goal performance over the weekend in South Central Alberta Hockey League action.
The local double-A midget team destroyed the winless Cranbrook Dynamiters 15-2 Nov. 11 at Hussar Arena, as 13 different players etched their way onto the score sheet.
Isaac Benoit led the charge, as he finished with five goals and a pair of assists. He now leads the Chiefs with 13 goals and 23 points in 12 games.
Chayse Hnatowich pulled the hat trick and Wacy Sandum piled up two goals and one assist.
Lucas Muenchrath netted the winner in the first and added an assist. Other scoring came from captain Ryan Bell (1G, 1A), Riley Romashenko (1G, 1A), Scott Desserre (2A), Zachary Suntjens (2A), Kelton Travis (2A), Robert Butterwick (2A), Kale Clouston (1G) and Ryan McHarg (1A).
With Ty Tarvyd getting the call to play with the CFR Chemical Bisons, Riley Stovka started in net and only needed to make a pedestrian 12 saves for his fourth win.
The Chiefs rode a pair of short-handed goals to rout the Red Deer Elks 6-2 on Nov. 13 at the Kinsmen Twin Arenas.
Trailing 1-0 after the first, Hnatowich scored his first of two on the night on a lovely tic-tac-toe play from Romashenko and Butterwick.
Sandum deflected a point shot from Tyler Skehar on a five-on-three powerplay. Travis picked up a second assist on the play. Sandum added the winner at the end of the second from Bell and Suntjens.
Romashenko supplied a goal and two assists and Benoit netted one goal in the third.
Tarvyd returned and played 52 minutes, making 24 saves on 26 shots, running his record to 6-0-1. Stovka chipped in with seven minutes in the crease and recorded three saves, while Tarvyd dealt with an equipment issue.
Following the weekend’s slate, the Chiefs carry the top offence by a mile with 77 goals for. The next closest are the Medicine Hat Hounds with 50.
Only one game this weekend for the Chiefs as they host the Foothills Bisons on Nov. 20 (7 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Braves lose a tough one
The Red Deer Parkland Transmission avenged the Elks loss with a 6-2 victory over the Wheatland Braves Nov. 12 at the Kinsmen Twin Arenas.
The local double-A peewee team trailed 4-0 in the second when Tyler Fairbairn found the back of the net on the power play from Josh Alberda. Fairbairn leads the Braves with 11 goals and 17 points. Alberda sits third with five goals and eight points.
Phillip Raycroft chipped in a short-handed tally at the 8:02 mark of the third period. Rhett Harten stopped 27 shots in his seventh appearance of the season.
The Braves picked up their second win of the season as they shaded the Central Alberta Selects 5-3 Nov. 13 at the Can Pak Arena 2. Cole Whelan’s third goal of the year ended up being the winner with 9:13 remaining in the second from Tate Yule.
Alberda chipped in with a goal and an assist, with other scoring coming from Ryan Grabmuller (1G), Carter Gosling (1G), Cyle Clayton (1A), Fairbairn (1A), Ryder Many Grey Horses (1A), Cole Tweit (1A) and Raycroft (1A).
Matthew Dovichak blocked 22 shots for his first win on the year.
The Braves travel to Lethbridge to tangle with the Lethbridge Hurricanes White Nov. 18 at the Henderson Ice Centre.
They return home Nov. 20 to host the Red Deer Motors at the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop is set for 4:15 p.m.
Warriors drop two
The Wheatland Warriors stretch of well-played hockey came to an end over the weekend as they allowed 89 shots, dropping a pair of games.
First, the Cranbrook CPC Hornets stung the local bantam team 5-1 on Nov. 12 at Hussar Arena.
Trey Gillis sniped his seventh from Kobe Gosling at 8:48 of the second period.
Logan Grant was peppered in net, allowing five goals on 45 shots.
On Nov. 13, the West Central Trilliant Real Estate Group Tigers overwhelmed the Warriors 7-1 at the Rocky Arena Complex.
Nolan Bailey pulled an unassisted marker on the power play three and a half minutes into the third. He leads the Chiefs with nine goals and 15 points.
Corey Ross made his seventh start and allowed seven goals on 44 shots.
The Warriors won’t suit up for another regular season game until Dec. 3, when they travel to the Taber Community Centre to take on the Taber Golden Suns.
They will return to the Strathmore Family Centre Dec. 4 (4:15 p.m.), when the Central Alberta Selects come to town.
The Warriors travel down to Medicine Hat for a tournament that kicks off Nov. 24.
- Category: Sports
The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks inaugural football season came to a close Nov. 12 in Cold Lake.
The Hawks took on another brand new program, the Assumption School Crusaders and were cranked 92-20 in the B side Alberta 6 Man Football League semifinals.
“They beat us pretty bad,” said head coach Michael Annicchiarico.
Missing a few starters, the Hawks tried their best, but went up against a well-prepared Crusader team.
“They scouted us pretty well and took away our strength which was the running game. They would send five guys up to the line and dared us to throw the ball, something we weren’t as confident doing,” said Annicchiarico, who plans to return next season as head coach along with Josh Jalbert.
Annicchiarico also noted his team was a little under-sized and a little younger than the Crusaders.
“This was a building season for us,” he said. “We didn’t have any Grade 12’s on our team so hopefully they all come back a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger and improve from there.”
The Hawks went 3-5 this season and earned their way into the B-side playoffs by clinching the sixth seed from the south division.
The Crusaders will take on the Caroline Cougars in the B final Nov. 19.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Community Football Association Badgers ran into a buzz saw named Duncan Critch during the Tier III Central Peewee Football League provincial championship.
“They had one guy who was their entire team,” said Badgers head coach Doug Thiessen. “He’s a powerful, big kid and we couldn’t stop him.”
Critch and the Bonnyville Renegades smoked the Badgers 72-8 in front of a boisterous crowd Nov. 12 at Crowther Memorial Junior High School field.
“He is a phenom; a prodigy,” boasted Renegades head coach Kevin Sartain. “Everyone up in Bonnyville knows it and we are waiting to see how far he goes.”
Critch was a runaway freight train. His combination of size, speed and strength made him nearly unstoppable.
“I couldn’t have done any of this today without my teammates,” said Critch, who was responsible for seven touchdowns. “I couldn’t run if I didn’t get any blocks and I couldn’t get any passing yards if my receivers didn’t get open and make plays.”
Whenever he wasn’t running over a Badgers defence that only yielded four defensive touchdowns in seven games, he was bombing them in the air with a passing game unlike any the Badgers faced this season.
Critch had a bevy of receivers to choose from; everyone was getting open.
His biggest passing play came on a flea-flicker, when he connected with Izahia Sartain on a 47-yard touchdown pass.
“I gotta give Strathmore credit. They played hard and they played to the end. They are not an easy team to play,” said Kevin Sartain. “The score probably doesn’t reflect it, but they should be proud of the way they played today.”
Vadin VanDenBossche took the opening kickoff untouched down the left sideline to the house. From there, the Renegades led 35-0 after the first quarter and 60-0 at half.
Midway through the second quarter, Ryan Brundige was in kickoff coverage for the Renegades when he was sent to the ground and didn’t get up.
Someone on the Badgers Kick return team picked up Brundige on a block and put him to the ground. The ambulance was called to the field.
“It was a clean hit, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Apparently it was just like a muscle spasm in his back. The docs gave him some pills and he even came back to the field and helped us celebrate,” said Sartain, who started the peewee program four years ago.
The Badgers have been a second-half team this postseason. They have come out flat in the beginning, but regrouped to pour it on in the second half.
The Badgers opened the second half with a few inspiring runs from Austin McInnis and Jordan Stewart.
McInnis was cutting on a dime and giving nine cents change while Stewart was rumbling and tumbling towards first downs, breathing life into the Badgers bench and crowd.
Stewart ripped off a 29-yard touchdown scramble with 5:53 remaining in the fourth for the Badgers lone score.
“These kids played their heart out today. What more can I ask from them? It was an honour coaching them all year,” said Thiessen. “We played with class and it was an awesome season.”
The Renegades were simply on a different level than the Badgers. The Renegades defended their provincial title and extended their undefeated streak to 17 games. The Renegades also appeared in the Tier III Final in 2014, when they were shut out by the Sylvan Lake Bears 64-0.
For the Badgers, it was their first trip to a provincial final since they lost 50-0 to the Spruce Grove Cougars during the Tier IV final in 2010.
The SCFA hold their end-of-season organization awards tonight, Nov. 18, when they will recognize and hand out awards for individuals, teams and all-star team nominations.
- Category: Sports
The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks reached the B-side playoffs in their inaugural season of Alberta 6 Man Football League play, thanks in part to their bankable running back.
Grade 11 student Jayden Hendricks grew up watching football on Sundays with his family, cheering on the New England Patriots to Super Bowls and idolizing players with the Minnesota Vikings. Little did he know he would transform into the Hawks version of Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson.
“I always wanted to play. I was very happy when the program opened at HCC,” said Hendricks.
The path to the B playoffs began last spring, when the Hawks coaching staff of Michael Annicchiarico, Josh Jalbert and Ben Chin held a jamboree that featured practices, scrimmages and even an exhibition game.
“Right away, we could tell with his size, his athletic ability and his desire to play that he was going to be one of our stronger players,” said defensive coordinator and HCC athletic director Jalbert.
Standing 6-foot-1 and weighing in around 210 with a stocky build, Hendricks was built to level defensive lines.
Like a boulder tumbling down a hill, Hendricks was a north-south runner at the beginning of the year, welcoming contact at the line of scrimmage and blasting through them with a head of steam.
“His power stuck out to us at the beginning. He wasn’t the fastest kid we’ve seen, but he is a big boy and he knew how to be physical from his hockey background,” said Hawks special teams coach Chin.
Raised in Strathmore, Hendricks has been a rink rat every winter. He currently plays for the Midget A Strathmore Storm as a winger.
“He certainly doesn’t shy away from the physical part. He is willing to go out and be aggressive, searching for contact,” said Jalbert.
Hendricks was a touchdown factory this season and was responsible for basically all of the Hawks touchdowns, highlighted by an eight TD performance Oct. 21 in a victory over the Our Lady of Mount Pleasant Royals.
“We started challenging guys in practice and encouraged them to be creative when they had the ball in their hands. That’s when Jayden started to develop these jukes and side-step moves,” said Jalbert. “We put them in one-on-one drills and told them to make the defender miss.”
Slowly, Hendricks began mixing in more of an east-west style game to patch along with his downward running style.
He turned into more of a racehorse than a plough horse; he began running around guys, instead of just straight through them.
Other teams certainly began to realize who was carrying the ball for the Hawks.
“Coaches would come up to us and compliment him: ‘Man, that 82 is one heck of a player,’” said Annicchiarico.
Even with all his success in the end zone, he never danced or popped off with an exuberant touchdown, and is always grounded during postgame interviews.
“He is all business on the field. He has a lot of experience from playing other sports to know how to handle himself and to lead by example. He knows the guys feed off him and he has become more of a leader as the year progressed,” said Chin.
Humble until the end: “I can’t do most of what I’ve done if I don’t get the great blocking from my teammates. They have put me in position to succeed,” said Hendricks.
“He loves it and he cherishes it. He wants the ball in his hands and wants to carry the team,” said Jalbert.
Playing both sides of the ball, Hendricks was relied on to be one of the bigger plugs in the Hawks defensive core.
After he was done scampering into the end zone, Hendricks can often be found on defence at the bottom of the scrum trying to recover a fumble. Playing both ways as a linebacker, he was the quarterback on defence.
“His ability to read plays, play aggressive at his big size while keeping his eyes on the quarterback at all times allowed him to succeed defensively,” said Jalbert. “He has great knowledge for the flow of the game and what is going on.”
While football isn’t new to Hendricks, his meteoric rise as an elite tailback has made life difficult in regards to which sports path to follow.
He missed snaps this season due to his hockey commitment and wonders what type of commitment crunch it would be if he suited up for the SCFA Badgers next season.
But those are worries for a much later time. As for right now, Hendricks is focused on leading his team into the playoffs, along with his studies.
Like most kids, Hendricks would like to continue playing sports as long as he can, but sees himself getting into education one day, becoming a teacher.