- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Cowboys and Cowgirls Rodeo Association (WCCRA) hosted finals on March 18 at the Lausen indoor arena, with $10,000 in prizes and cash handed out.
Throughout the past five months, 56 young cowboys and cowgirls between the ages of two and 18 have been competing in a combined 12 events, split between three age groups.
Events include barrel racing, thread the needle, goat tying and untying, pole bending, steer daubing, live and dummy breakaway, dummy and live roping, dummy and live team roping.
“The (kids) get a bond with their horse younger,” said Brandy Schiffner, treasurer of the WCCRA. “Horses are large animals so working with them gives them a lot of confidence which then carries through to other aspects in their lives.”
According to the WCCRA, spending time with the association provides youth the opportunity to learn compassion, responsibility, confidence and sportsmanship. The kids learn to look after and listen to their horses, and to communicate in their own way with their horses to be able to compete in the rodeo events.
The young rodeo stars have been meeting every second Sunday since October to compete and to practice rodeo events. Each youth rodeo is treated like a regular rodeo where the kids with the best scores for each event win cash.
Throughout the year, the kids have been accumulating points and times from each event. The overall winners from each event were recognized at a banquet on March 19 where they won buckles, horse blankets and halters.
Winners from each event and age group include:
Barrel racing: 8 and under A - Rhys Brosz; 8 and under B - Taylor Hall; 9-12 A - Lexi Kathol; 9-12 B - Taya Sharpley; 13 and over A - Paige Sibbet; 13 and over B - Jaelyn Bec.
Pole Bending: 8 and under A - Maysa Schiffner; 8 and under B - Taylor Hall; 9-12 A - Alice Tanner; 9-12 B - Kazziah McFadden; 13 and over A - Jaymie Conrad; 13 and over B - Sadie Henn.
Thread the Needle: 8 and under A - Maysa Schiffner; 8 and under B - Taylor Hall.
Goat Untying: 8 and under A - Rhys Brosz; 8 and under B - Taylor Hall.
Goat Tying: 9-12 A - Lexi Kathol; 9-12 B - Taya Sharpley; 13 and over A - Riley Sibbet; 13 and over B - Orrin Henn.
Steer Daubing: 9-12 A - Avery Aleman; 9-12 B - Taya Sharpley; 13 and over A - Riley Sibbet; 13 and over B - Sadie Henn.
Breakaway roping (dummy): Taya Sharpley.
Breakaway roping (live): Orrin Henn.
Team Roping Header (dummy): Taya Sharpley.
Team Roping Header (live): Paige Sibbet.
Team Roping Heeler (live): Riley Sibbet.
High Point Winners: 8 and under A - Maysa Schiffner; 8 and under B - Taylor Hall; 9-12 A - Lexi Kathol; 9-12 B - Taya Sharpley; 13 and over A - Riley Sibbet; 13 and over B - Jaelyn Bec.
“The finals are what they work all year for,” said Tara Kathol, secretary of the WCCRA.
The youth rodeo goes in winter, giving the kids an outlet to ride while not competing with the main rodeo season in which many parents compete.
“This is such a fun club where you are allowed to learn and grow in the sport so that when you go to a competition, you have already learned the steps on how to get there,” said Schiffner.
“It preserves our heritage. We are teaching the kids something many of their parents are part of,” added Crystal Stevens, vice-president with the WCCRA. “I think it’s a great competitive sport for our youth, and is a good training ground and opportunity for them to get better at what they do.”
- Category: Sports
Most teams would be happy enough knowing they are hosting a provincial championship and will participate as the host team. But not the Strathmore Midget A Storm.
The Storm’s season turned around once their provincial status cemented when they were given the rights to host provincials back in December.
Doug Raycroft’s crew turned things around, and swept the top-ranked Stettler Lightning in the Central Alberta Hockey League final.
“We didn’t want to be just another host team in provincials,” said Raycroft. “Stettler won the provincials last year and they had a lot of players back on the team this year, but we kept growing each game as a team and took it to them. Nobody in our locker room was surprised by the result.”
The Storm polished off the Lightning 2-1 March 17 and wrapped up the series with a 4-2 victory March 18.
All that leads up to the provincial championships at the Strathmore Family Centre this weekend. The action kicked off March 23. The Storm are in action March 24 at 10:30 a.m. They wrap up round-robin play March 25 at 1 p.m. on the blue rink. Playoffs go March 26 with the first semifinal at 8 a.m. The championship is slated for 4 p.m.
Raycroft is confident in his team’s ability to move the puck, and hoping it will transfer into success this weekend.
“We like to play faster than most teams, use our good breakout systems (get) around on the other team,” said Raycroft.
Jayden Hendricks led the Storm with 11 goals and 17 assists in 14 games. Ethan Raycroft went 3-1-3 between the pipes with a 2.86 goals against average. His partner Devon Swan backstopped the Storm to a 5-1-1 record with a 1.43 record, as the Storm finished the regular season third, going 8-2-4.
One of the main events that took place away from the rink was the Spirit of Hockey Day. The Storm coordinated with elementary schools from the town and invited them out to the arena to meet the players and coaches, and were presented with gifts. It was another way of minor hockey getting involved with the community.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School Spartans senior girls basketball squad cake-walked their way to the school’s second 3A South Central Zone championship at Highwood High School last weekend.
“We went into every game hoping to play our best and we managed to come out with the win, and that’s all that matters,” said Ffyona Gibson-Smith.
The Spartans dumped the Bert Church High School Chargers 66-58 in the final in front of a loud, travelling group of fans from Strathmore.
“It was a pretty tight game early, they jumped out to an early lead and we battled our way back and led by 10 at halftime,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy. “We maintained a 10 to 12 point lead the rest of the way. All the pressure was on Bert Church. I just kept reminding them, ‘hurry, but don’t rush.’ We kept working hard and played with intensity.”
For the Spartans, it’s the school’s first 3A zone championship since the 2013-2014 season.
In the semis, the Spartans sank the Springbank High School Phoenix 55-25.
The Spartans were rewarded with a home game to open zones, as they dumped the Bow Valley Bobcats 60-46 at Strathmore High School.
The Spartans entered the Alberta Schools’ Athletic Association provincials last ranked as an honorable mention – an underdog, if you will.
The tourney kicked off March 16.
Last time Galandy took a crew to provincials, they were knocked out of contention in the quarterfinals. His message this time around was simple: “We have nothing to lose. The pressure is on everyone else, which works in our favour. We are going to go in relaxed, play our games, because you never know what might happen.”
According to Gibson-Smith, the goal was to make it to provincials.
“Now that we have made it, our goal is to go out, play hard and see what we can make out of it,” said Le May. “At the end of the day, it’s about playing hard and doing the best we can.”
Entering provincials ranked 10th, the Spartans took on the No. 7 ranked Strathcona Christian Academy Eagles March 16. If they won their opening game, they then battled the No. 2 ranked Monsignor McCoy High School Colts March 17.
Spartan boys miss out
On the guys side, The Canmore High School Crusaders dumped the Spartans in the opener 77-56, but a late three-pointer from Jackson Howatt sunk the Spartans provincial hopes for good.
Playing at home with two provincial berths up for grabs, the Spartans were 30 seconds away from the final.
Rebounding from their opening round loss to the Crusaders, the Spartans eliminated the No. 10 ranked Bert Church High School Chargers 77-69 on March 10.
The Spartans opened up the game with the three ball in the second half, with big shots. Mackenzie Bain knocked down four triples, finishing with 17 points, and John Le May poured in one triple, to finish with 23 points. Caleb Funk finished his high school career strong, recording 17 points in the consolation quarterfinals.
Funk was also a beast down low and brought the Spartans within one, 85-84, with less than a 30 seconds remaining against the Crusaders in the consolation semifinals.
Needing to foul, the Spartans caught a lucky break as the Crusaders clanked both of their free throws. After grabbing the rebound, the Spartans fumbled the ball up the court, evaporating valuable seconds from the clock that they could have used to get a cleaner look at the buzzer.
“That’s the way these things go sometimes,” said Spartans head coach Matt Laslo. “Sometimes they don’t go our way. It was a great season and we saved our best basketball for zones and that’s all I could have asked from our guys.”
Funk dumped in 15 points, Le May supplied 32 and Mackenzie Bain added 12 in the loss.
The Brooks Composite High School Buffalos (No. 4) and the George McDougall High School Mustangs (No. 3) clinched the two provincial berths.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Silver Sharks Swim Club is waist deep in another successful season, highlighted by three swimmers’ efforts reaching the provincial championships, with an eye on the national pool.
Jessica Mantik, Madison Laycraft and Elle Sauve are set for the Swim Alberta Spring Championships, running March 17 to 19 in Edmonton.
The Sharks are halfway through their season, which kicked off in October and ends in July after another provincial meet.
“These three swimmers are very dedicated and work very hard,” said Sharks head coach Jen Mertz. “They all have a great shot at advancing to the western meet and maybe even nationals.”
Laycraft, 15, is the longest tenured swimmer out of the three, competing with the Sharks since she was six years old.
A sprinter, Laycraft’s best discipline is the backstroke, but she is continuing to explore and work on the three other strokes.
Mantik is in her third season of competition with the Sharks and her fourth overall. Also a strong sprinter, Mantik will be competing in all four disciplines in Edmonton.
“She has made leaps and bounds of improvements since she joined our program,” said Mertz. “Nobody would be shocked if she turned in some winning time this weekend. Both Madison and Jessica have put in a lot of work outside of the pool [with] dryland training as they try and pull off some national qualifying times.”
The Edmonton swim meet isn’t like minor hockey provincials. Advancing to westerns and nationals all depends on qualifying times. With time standards for each age group and race length, the time of a swimmer’s race determines whether or not he or she advances to the next level. Times in the athlete’s heats still matter, as they advance within the competition, earning points towards medals and ribbons.
Sauve, 12, has leaned on her athletic prowess to propel her in the pool. Away from the pool, Sauve plays basketball, ringette and baseball; she’s open to any sport.
“She is a really strong swimmer,” said Mertz. “Her strong arms and legs really help her excel at the butterfly and that’s directly related to her athletic ability from all the different sports she plays.”
During the Southern Alberta Provincials Feb. 25-26 at the Repsol Sport Centre in Calgary, Sauve placed higher than any Shark, when she finished sixth in the 50-metre butterfly, with a time of 33.37 seconds.
- Category: Sports
The first three games of the Alberta Midget Hockey League semifinals between the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons and the Calgary Buffaloes have represented the pinnacle of playoff hockey.
The two teams were ranked first and second in the league with the Buffs edging the Bisons by one point.
The series also features the top two offences and defences going at each other in what has been a grudge match thus far.
It should be no surprise to anyone the way the first three games have gone. The series has delivered on all its promises to be a tightly-skilled affair.
To say that goals have been hard to come by would be an understatement.
The Bisons needed two friendly bounces to reach overtime in Game 3 March 14 at the Cardel Rec South arena.
Playing in double overtime, Tyson Terretta, who scored one goal in 34 regular season games, out-waited a diving shot blocker, to pipe home the winner at the 12:58 mark, to put the Bisons in the driver’s seat, leading the best-of-five series 2-1.
“My first option was to pass dee-to-dee, but that wasn’t available,” said Terretta. “My next option was to put it on net, but there was a guy there to block the shot, so I just held it for a second; a lane opened up and I let her go.”
The Bisons needed a pair of fortuitous bounces just to reach overtime.
First, Cayde Augustine launched a shot from the blue line that ricocheted off Buffs defenseman Cayden Shmyr’s foot and in. Later in the third, Jackson Salt, who had a goal waved off in the second period, had a Liam Belcourt shot bounce off his backside and go in.
Overtime was two inches away from not happening in the first place.
Tyson Scott, who scored a goal with 15 seconds remaining in Game 2 of the quarterfinals to force overtime, was rewarded with a penalty shot with 1:46 remaining in regulation.
Coming in, he tried to go top-bunk on Gauthier, but his shot rifled off the crossbar and into the protective netting.
The Bisons also wouldn’t have made it to overtime if it wasn’t for the brilliant play by Ben Laidlaw between the pipes. He recorded a season-high 52 saves in the marathon.
“As a staff, we are just trying to stabilize the emotions. There is a lot of highs and lows out in these games, we have to keep them level so they can go out and compete,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “But wow, are these games fun right now.”
Returning to the lineup were forwards Tarun Fizer and Tyler Petrie. Fizer has been out for a significant time with an upper-body injury and Petrie has missed the entire playoff stretch with a lower-body injury.
“They changed the whole dynamic of our lineup. I think they looked like they fit in right off the bat,” said Bisons assistant coach Mike Langen.
Game 2 took place March 12 at the Strathmore Family Centre, where it wasn’t necessarily a must win for the Bisons, but it was the closest thing to it, playing in the best-of-five series.
Despite the larger ice surface giving players more time with the puck to make plays, the game remained scoreless into the late stages of the third period.
Peyton Krebs was called for a questionable penalty while going into the corner, trying to win a battle for the puck.
The Bisons penalty kill unit killed off the minor, highlighted by a Kaden Hanas headfirst diving shot block at the top of the zone.
Sensing the desperation, Zach Huber dove for a puck in the neutral zone, sending Peyton Krebs in alone on his former Western Canada Challenge Cup teammate Taylor Gauthier.
Krebs pulled out the Mighty Ducks triple-deke, finishing on the backhand, over a sprawled out Gauthier.
The 1-0 lead stood thanks to the great saves by Laidlaw, who made 28 of them to earn the shutout.
The Buffs took Game 1 on March 10 by capitalizing on a pair of odd man rushes in the first period.
Strathmore product Cole Clayton was able to roof one on the power play from Krebs and Salt in the second period, but that’s as close as they would get.
Game 4 went March 16 at the Strathmore Family Centre, as the Bisons looked to finish off the Buffs (result not available as of press time).
If necessary, Game 5 is set for March 18 at the Cardel Rec South Arena, where the winner will take on the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings for the league championship.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School took a few minutes before tipoff of the South Central Zone 3A basketball championships to recognize their graduating class.
The Spartans senior girls squad’s zone championships took place in High River, but they opened the tourney with one final home game, as they took on the Bow Valley High School Bobcats.
Prior to the game, a speech prepared by head coach Dion Galandy and assistant Leslie Larson was read, as the girls were presented with framed photos, reflecting their time with the Spartans.
Words such as focused, positivity, determination, coachability and talented, were used to describe their time together.
It was an emotional moment for power forward Tatum Wathen, who began to tear up after the game at just the thought of graduating the basketball program.
“It’s really sad, I don’t want the season to be over,” said Wathen. “It was really nice of them to honour us like that and bring closure to our career.”
Wathen had a great season on the glass for the Spartans, crashing the boards on every opportunity; she was one of the top rebounders.
Next year, she plans on attending Mount Royal University (MRU), where she will begin working on her bachelor of communications with a major in public relations. Helping the transition to university will be her roommate and fellow grad Ffyona Gibson-Smith, who will enter the education program.
Gibson-Smith was one of the more aggressive drivers on the Spartans. Whenever the threes weren’t falling, she would take the ball in transition, carving her way to the tin for an easy bucket.
Pacey Strangling Wolf will also be attending MRU and will study criminal justice.
“We were a pretty close-knit group,” said Strangling Wolf. “Nobody got left out and we all had the same goal of working hard and wanting to win. This was a nice way to end our high school career.”
None of the three think they will play for the Cougars, but if they choose to team up, they would make quite the formidable intramural squad.
Brianna Kennedy only spent one year with the Spartans after moving from Athabasca. She was the Spartans dead-red shooter from downtown and hopes her hoop dreams aren’t over yet.
“It’s tough, I want to keep playing basketball, but I also want to go to the [University of Calgary] to become a doctor,” said Kennedy. “I have some time still, I will try and figure it out.”
The Spartans rode off into the sunset with a 60-46 win in their final game on home turf.
The senior boys program also recognized their graduating players before getting their zone tournament underway.
The group of graduating athletes has succeeded in several sports at SHS; playing football, volleyball, basketball and running cross-country.
Head coach Matt Laslo will have his hands full trying to replace seven seniors next season.
Presented with a framed picture of some of their highlights, Mackenzie Bain, Caleb Funk, Jonathan Le May, Connor McBean, J.J. Pelly, Isaiah Simwamu and Isaac Wegner will all be moving on next year.
“The seniors were huge factors down the stretch and we needed them to be this weekend,” said Laslo. “It’s really cool to have a group that has played together for three years that you can rely on in a big game and just leave them out there.”
One of the grads, Bain, has been a spot-up shooter for the Spartans, drilling big threes when called upon. He was thrilled to have his high school career end at the place where it all began.
“Having zones here has probably been the highlight for me,” said Bain. “The fans are always great here and I’m just so glad to end my career at home in these big games.”
Bain is still sorting out his path for next season, but has been in contact with a few post-secondary schools in B.C. and will take general sciences until he figures things out.
Le May has been one of the most reliable scorers on the roster. He can either break out a variety of moves, spinning, backing defenders down in the paint, or stepping out to splash a three.
“It meant a lot to me and the other guys to be recognized like that,” said Le May. “We have been going to school for a while now together, it was touching to have our school honour us like that.”
Le May will take the next two years and embark on an LDS mission, spreading the word of his religion around the world, with hopes of returning one day, picking up basketball in the college ranks.
The Spartans were eliminated from zones in a thrilling semifinal game against the Canmore Collegiate High School Crusaders, losing 85-84.
- Category: Sports
The top U16B ringette talent took over the Strathmore Family Centre last weekend for the provincial championships.
Receiving an automatic bid as hosts, the results didn’t go too well for the local Ice squad.
“It was a tough weekend. Our girls played hard, but we went up against the Top 11 teams from the province,” said Ice head coach Dean Hansen. “We got better as the tournament went on, but we couldn’t buy a goal in the end.”
Beaumont downed the Ice 6-1 March 10 in the opener, followed by the Fort McMurray Fusion crushing the Ice 9-2 that afternoon.
Taking on the Bowview Ambush March 11, the Ice were blanked 7-0.
“When you play the best of the best, there’s nothing you can do but learn from it,” said Hansen. “I thought as the tournament went along, we were picking up on the other team’s plays and we stepped it up each time.”
Later that afternoon, the Ice played the Northwest D12 squad hard, but got clipped 4-1.
Despite out-shooting the Bowview Elite 43-41, the Ice were shut out in the final game of the tournament, 1-0.
“What I always liked to see from this team, was that no matter the outcome, our girls always left the locker room with a smile on their face,” said Hansen. “We wish we could have played better, but we still had a great year and this was a great team.”
- Category: Sports
After a dominating regular season, the Wheatland Chiefs hit a bit of adversity in their South Central Hockey League playoffs, before reverting back to their world-beating ways in the south division final.
The local double-A midget team exacted some revenge on the Lethbridge Hurricanes, piping them 5-0 March 12 at Medicine Hat Arena to capture their second-straight south division title.
Earlier in the tournament, after a sizzling hot start by crushing the Foothills Bisons 5-1 (March 9) and destroying the Okotoks Oilers Green 11-2 (March 10), they took their foot off the gas in the third period against the Hurricanes, resulting in a 3-3 tie (March 11).
“We got complacent up 3-1 in the second,” said Chiefs assistant coach Matt Gass. “Even though we outshot the Hurricanes by 28, we didn’t give it our best effort closing out the game.”
The tie knocked the Chiefs out of the top seed heading into the elimination round. Instead of a rematch with the Foothills Bisons, they were forced to play the Medicine Hat Hounds in the semis.
The Hounds finished the regular season 12 points behind the Chiefs in second, and were one of two teams to defeat them this season.
Teams were tied 2-2 after the second period on goals from Rylan Longmuir and A.J. Kusu.
Wacy Sandum scored 17 seconds into the third frame from Kelton Travis and Ryan Bell, but a late slashing penalty to Chayse Hnatowich opened the door for the Hounds one last time.
With 37 seconds left in regulation, Maverick Cox tied the game from Cody Riehl and Martiz Watz.
“During the intermission, we just told our guys to stay focused,” said Gass. “We knew we were beating them all game and that they got lucky with a penalty at the end. We just needed to keep battling and our hard work was going to pay off.”
Robert Butterwick sent the Chiefs into the finals on a feed from Riley Romashenko 2:47 into the extra frame.
After seeing their season flash before their eyes, the Chiefs entered the south division finals on a mission, in a rematch against the Hurricanes.
The league’s regular season top point-getter, Isaac Benoit, scored the winner 58 seconds into the first period from Clouston.
Kelton Travis netted an unassisted marker less than two minutes later, and Benoit closed out the frame with his second of the period from Butterwick and Romashenko.
Lucas Muenchrath sniped a short-handed marker midway through the second period from Sandum, and Longmuir put the Hurricanes to bed in the third from Clouston and Travis.
Ty Tarvyd was spectacular in net, making 28 saves for the shutout.
Following the celebration, Chiefs captain Bell was presented with the championship banner, but respectfully and superstitiously declined to grab it for a photo, realizing the win was only step one of three along the way.
“I was surprised by their reaction to winning it,” said Chiefs head coach Evan Barlow. “They took it upon themselves to have the mentality that this was just a step towards an ultimate goal. It was pretty neat to see that from kids at that age.”
Now the Chiefs shift their focus to the Airdrie Lightning for the SCHAL crown and the right to head to provincials.
Michael DuBois scored in overtime as the Lighting edged the Okotoks Oilers Black 4-3 March 12 at the Can Pak Arena 1.
The Lightning finished fifth in the north division, with a 14-16-6 record.
“Airdrie is playing strong right now,” said Gass. “We haven’t seen them since the start of the season, but, from what I hear, they are a big, physical team and we are going to have to attack them with our speed.”
Game 1 of the best-of-three series goes March 17 at the Strathmore Family Centre. Game 2 is set for March 18 in Airdrie, and if necessary, Game 3 would go March 19 back in Strathmore.
The Chiefs skimmed the Lightning 4-3 in Strathmore back on Dec. 11 in the only meeting between the two teams.
Benoit led the Chiefs with seven goals and a pair of assists over the weekend. Butterwick finished with eight points and Hnatowich recorded six points.
Tarvyd won all three of his starts, posting a .940 save percentage and a 1.60 goals-against average. Riley Stovka helped out, going 1-0-1, with a .890 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against.
The local double-A peewee Braves struggled during their playoff tournament in Olds over the weekend.
The Braves dropped the opener to the Red Deer Motors 5-2 March 10 at the Olds and District Sports Complex.
Things didn’t get any better from there. They lost their next two games to the Bow Valley Timberwolves 8-1 (March 10) and fell 9-1 later that afternoon to the host Olds Grizzlys.
In their final game of the season, Philip Raycroft scored with 8:15 remaining in the third to tie the Airdrie Lighting White 3-3 March 11.
Raycroft led the Braves with three goals. Tate Yule sniped a goal and two assists, while Nolan Mahussier tied for the team lead in points with three assists.
The bantam Warriors will not be defending their south division title this season.
They went winless in Okotoks, losing their last game of the season 6-2 March 11 to the Medicine Hat Hounds.
They opened the tournament with a 9-5 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes (March 9), followed by a 3-1 loss to the host Okotoks Oilers (March 10).
The Warriors lost a barnburner March 11 to the Taber Golden Suns 10-8.
Mitch Tessemaker led the Warriors with four goals and four assists, Adam Kirkpatrick supplied six points, and Nolan Bailey and Trey Gillis tied for third on the team with four points.
- Category: Sports
The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior boys basketball team might not have received the results they were searching for at the 2A South Central Zone Championships last weekend, but the future is still bright looking forward to next year.
“We saw how close we are already to competing with the top competition in our zone and we saw the compete level we need in order to get to provincials,” said Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert. “It’s definitely an attainable goal next year.”
The Hawks opened the tourney against the eventual zone champs, losing to the host Three Hills High School Royals 65-52 March 10.
Reid Jensen was the Hawks leading scorer in zones, but had to work for his buckets, finishing 26-for-68 (22 per cent) from the floor. He finished one rebound shy of a double-double, with 21 points and nine rebounds. Fellow freshman Alex Nwoye chipped in with 16 points and seven rebounds, and Luke Sproul was strong in the paint, supplying six points and nine rebounds.
Down by five with a minute remaining, the Hawks picked up a couple quick baskets, edging the Prairie Christian Academy Sabres 60-59.
Jensen recorded 18 points, eight boards and eight steals, while Nwoye pulled the double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds, going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
In the finale, the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves brushed back the Hawks 61-57.
Jensen turned in his most efficient performance, registering 29 points on 11-of-19 shots. Nwoye grabbed 10 boards to go with his three points, Sproul yanked down nine boards and supplied 10 points, and Ralph Valencia recorded seven points and five rebounds.
Out of 11 players on Jalbert’s roster, only Kyle Gerencer, Jericho Ricafort and Sproul won’t be back because they will have graduated by the time next season tips off.
“This year, we saw how talented we are, the potential we have moving forward and it was exciting,” said Jalbert. “We grew a lot, got smarter, and that year of experience for a young core definitely helped.”
Senior girls end season with win
The Hawks senior girls squad put a bow on their season with a convincing win in their final game of zones in Brooks.
The Hawks dumped the Hugh Sutherland School Kodiaks 61-41March 11.
“It was good to see us end the season like that. We learned a lot of skills this year. We knew coming in that if we worked hard and had some fun, it would be a good year,” said Hawks head coach Brad Everett.
Despite a late surge from the three-point line, the Hawks fell 58-54Didsbury High School Dragons.
Dealt a tough hand to open zones, the Hawks took on top-ranked J.C. Charyk Hawks, and got thumped 59-24.
- Category: Sports
Phil Jackson, a 13-time NBA champion, would acknowledge postseason events while coaching the Los Angeles Lakers as: “playoffs can turn on a trifle.”
Looking back at the Alberta Midget Hockey League Chrysler division semifinals between the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons and the Calgary Flames, the trifle occurred in Game 2 with 15.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Deep in the Flames zone, Kaden Hanas and Brandon Machado worked the puck to the side of the net, where Tyson Scott stood on the doorstep, jamming in the game-tying goal, forcing overtime.
Machado went on to score in overtime, putting the Bisons in what they perceived to be a comfortable situation, up 2-0, heading back to Strathmore with a chance to sweep.
The Flames had different ideas, as they stuffed the Bisons in Game 3, 3-1 at the jam-packed Strathmore Family Centre.
The Bisons were 15.6 seconds away from being down 2-1 in the series and facing elimination when they entered overtime of Game 4, March 6 at Father David Bauer Arena.
Heading into the playoff series, it didn’t seem like the Flames were going to be as big of a problem that they turned out to be. The Bisons handled them fairly easily in the regular season, but, as we have come to learn so many times, the regular season doesn’t mean a thing once the playoffs roll around.
The Flames knocked off the higher-seeded Red Deer Chiefs 2-1 in the opening best-of-three series, while the Bisons sat and watched, waiting 10 days for their opponent.
The Herd opened the Chrysler division semifinals with a 5-4 win March 2 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Zach Huber netted the eventual winner off another picturesque saucer pass from Peyton Krebs. At the time, Huber’s marker put the Herd up 5-2.
“They have that play down to a science, it’s becoming automatic,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant.
But the Flames gave a glimpse at their tenacity and resiliency, as they got within a trifle of sending Game 1 into overtime, with furious play at the end of regulation.
Boaz Bassen, Jackson Salt, Hanas and Landon Melzer picked up the other markers, with assists going to Tyler Strath, Krebs (2), Huber (2), Cole Clayton, Machado, Tyson Scott and Liam Belcourt. Ben Laidlaw made 29 saves in net.
Game 2 saw the Bisons score the first goal for the only game of the series. The Flames led 5-3 entering the third period, as Hanas and Scott’s late heroics sent the game into overtime.
“I don’t even think I was supposed to be out there,” joked a raspy-sounding Scott, who lost his voice in the third period.
Other Bisons goals came from Scott, Machado, affiliated player Tucker Zdunich and Hanas, with assists to Machado (2), Joel Krahenbil (2), Bassen, Melzer, Blake Wells and Hanas.
The fans filed into the Strathmore Family Centre for Game 3 and a chance to witness a sweep. But Flames goaltender, Ben Howard, had different plans.
Howard had been torched for 11 goals in the two regular season tilts and 11 goals in the first two games of the series, but was a brick wall, turning away 34 shots.
“I thought he was good in the first two games and he certainly had an outstanding afternoon today, especially in the first period,” said Flames head coach Jeremy Blumes. “I thought the Bisons created some excellent opportunities and he answered the bell for us.”
The Bisons allowed three goals in the first period, including a short-handed tally.
Salt looked to ignite the comeback, scoring his second of the series 32 seconds into the second period from Krebs and Clayton, but Howard was simply the best player on the ice.
The following night, the Bisons were kind enough to spot the Flames another three-goal cushion in the first period.
Bisons head coach Sandy Henry challenged the competitive fire of his team between periods and they responded.
“I really called out their character between the first and second. How can you dare bring that game, to your fans and to the people that care about you?” said Henry. “But there is character in there. Playoff hockey is less about X and O’s, and more about heart and passion. We didn’t have it at the start, but, somehow, this team can find a way to get it when they need to.”
Hanas picked the corner and went top-shelf, and Huber got to the rough areas of the ice, shoveling in two goals 2:31 seconds apart.
At the 13:19 mark of the second period, Blake Wells drove defenseman Ian Dubourdieu into the boards, resulting in a five-minute major and a game misconduct. He will be suspended for Game 1 of the next series.
The third period was madness. Regulation ended, tied 4-4, with the Bisons carrying the slight edge in shots, 38-36. Laidlaw was doing everything he could to throw a body part in front of the puck, including making a pair of stops without his stick, from the seat of his pants.
Henry rolled out the same line that scored the overtime winner in Game 2, as Krahenbil and Machado were taking stabs at a loose puck, with captain Brett Trentham stuffing in the winner at the 2:32 mark.
The Bisons, who finished one point below the Calgary Buffaloes, will now head to Cardel Rec South Arena, March 10 for Game 1 of the division finals. Puck drop is tentatively set for 8 p.m. Check the AMHL website and Bisons homepage for future updates.
“It’s going to be a tough series,” said Huber. “We have a couple things to tighten up at practice, but we will be ready to roll.”
- Category: Sports
Nobody could have imagined how the Zone 2 ringette squad would have performed this season.
“It was an unbelievably surprising year,” said Zone 2 head coach Steve Rosenberg. “They blew my expectations out of the water. I was just hoping we didn’t lose every game this year.”
Zone 2 hosted the U19A provincials this past weekend in Rockyford. They clipped the Calgary NW Grit 5-4 in the gold medal game, earning the right to represent Alberta at the Ringette Western Championships in Winnipeg, March 22-25.
The squad is comprised of players from communities around the Calgary area, such as Strathmore, Cochrane, Chestermere, Rockyford, Airdrie and Indus.
Their provincial journey started with a 2-2 tie against St. Albert and a 7-6 overtime loss to Leduc.
“We lost our second game at the buzzer in overtime and that was a wake-up call for us,” said Strathmore product Ashley LeCavalier, who scored two goals in the championship game. “We came out a little nervous and I think we thought we were going to play better in general.”
From there, Zone 2 took off, with wins over South Calgary (3-1) and Sherwood Park (6-4) in the semis.
For Rockyford product Taneil Kalbhen, provincials weren’t a big deal. Capturing the gold medal marked her fifth-straight season as provincial champion.
“This was my first year playing at the A level, and I didn’t know what to expect out of my team and the competition,” she said. “We just got rolling at the beginning of the year and didn’t stop.”
What makes this provincial win even more impressive was that the team was non-existent a year ago.
Players, parents and potential coaches gathered back in September to see what kind of interest there was in the team.
With a new roster of players that grew up playing against each other, nobody knew what to expect playing in one of the higher caliber ringette leagues in Alberta.
Shattering expectations, Zone 2 racked up tournament wins in Strathmore, Calgary and Airdrie this season, while going 11-4-1, finishing second in league play.
Zone 2 will have 12 days to prepare for Western’s in Winnipeg. They are the first Zone 2 team to represent Alberta at a provincial competition.
Local girls on the team are: Julia Bishop (Langdon), Lauryn Eitzen (Strathmore), LeCavalier (Strathmore), Jessica Clyne (Rockyford) and Kalbhen (Rockyford).
- Category: Sports
The U16B ringette provincials have descended on Strathmore and the host team is looking to catch some magic on home ice.
The Strathmore Ice, coached by Dean Hansen, gets underway March 10, 9:30 a.m. when they host Beaumont at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“It hasn’t been our best season on the ice, but this is the best group of girls that I’ve ever had the pleasure to coach,” said Hansen. “Our games are always exciting and probably cost me a couple of grey hairs.”
The Ice finished 5-11 in league play and are coming off a 4-2 victory Feb. 12 against the Indus squad.
“Hopefully we peak at the right time,” said Hansen. “I think a lot of teams might take us for granted as the host team, but we still have to play our best every single game and hope for a little bit of luck.”
Strathmore submitted their bid for provincials back in August and was awarded the event just before Christmas.
As part of the provincials, the opening ceremonies will take place March 10 at the Civic Centre. The evening will include a dinner, player and coach introductions and a slideshow featuring all the athletes. Pictures of the athletes as they grew up playing ringette will be shown, as a fun time capsule back to where the love of the sport began.
Throughout the tournament, there will be raffles and a ringette store at the arena.
The Ice hit the ice for their second game on the 10th, when they host the Fort McMurray Fusion at 2 p.m. They will wrap up round robin play March 11 when they take on the Bowview Ambush at 12:15 p.m.
The bronze medal match is slated for March 12 (1:45 p.m.), followed by the gold medal game at the Strathmore Family Centre.
- Category: Sports
A father-son project more than a decade in the making was finally rewarded for all the years of tinkering underneath the hoods of their cars.
Todd and his son Joel Blakney each entered a car at the 51st annual Auto Value Parts Stores World of Wheels car show Feb. 24-26 at the BMO Centre in Calgary.
Todd walked away with the best display award, and finished second place in his class for his 1970 custom Psycobird.
Joel earned the Rising Star award for his work on his 1968 Pontiac GTO.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling to both win an award. We have never entered a show together,” said Todd. “It’s been in the back of my mind to create something like this for a long time now.”
Todd, the owner of Muscle Motors, said that Joel has been running around with a wrench in his hand at the shop since he was three years old. For his son’s 14th birthday, he gave him the GTO as a gift and a future project.
“The goal was always to give him the car and use it as a way to help catapult his career,” said Todd. “He could have chosen to stay in the family business, but he chose his own route with welding, and that probably makes me the most proud.”
The custom orange GTO sat in his family’s garage and the garage at Muscle Motors for 11 years, while they slowly worked away on it.
“We started working right away, we stripped it all down; every nut and bolt, the paint and the motor, is brand new,” said Joel.
Building cars from scratch isn’t easy. Aside from the labour needed outside of Todd’s busy workday, the two put a lot of time and money in to acquire the proper parts for their ride.
“I’ve always been around shops and other vehicles,” said Joel, a Strathmore High School grad. “The hardest part was staying motivated, keeping the vision of the end project in mind. I’m happy I stuck with it, put the effort in and now to get rewarded for it.”
Todd’s project, what he calls the Psycobird, has the front end of a Dodge and the body of a Plymouth. His one-of-a-kind car was 15 years in the works.
There was a lot of give-and-take along the way for the pairing. Todd came loaded with years of experience and Joel brought a different perspective for the end goal.
“One of the challenges was collaborating on ideas,” said Todd. “One of the biggest debates was on the paint colour for my car. I wanted more of an old-school colour and Joel thought a trendier colour would be better.”
Todd later settled on a metallic green paint infused with pearl, so it changes brightness going from the sun to shade.
The projects never end for Todd. He has a 1926 International that he has been chipping away at for some time, but admits that it might be another 10 years until completion.
Joel has turned his focus to school. Attending SAIT, he is working on his welding ticket and his millwright apprenticeship. He is looking forward to taking his GTO out on the road once the snow melts and the rocks are removed from the road. He also spotted a 1938 Ford pickup, which he would like to get his hands on one day down the road.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Chiefs finished off their wire-to-wire South Central Alberta Hockey League campaign as the top team in the division.
“We knew we had a good team coming into the year, but if you told me that we would only lose twice, I would have laughed at you,” said Chiefs assistant coach Matt Gass. “That never happens.”
The local double-A midget team torched the 11-22-3 Central Alberta Selects 5-1 March 4 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
After a scoreless, physical opening frame that saw 150 penalty minutes handed out, Marshall Wilson put the Selects in front with his ninth of the year.
From that point onward, the Chiefs (31-2-3) dominated, scoring five consecutive goals.
Chayse Hnatowich and Rylan Longmuir each finished with a goal and an assist, as other markers came from Lucas Muenchrath, Kale Clouston and Riley Romashenko.
Not only did the Chiefs control the standings, they also owned the league leader board.
Isaac Benoit finished as the top scorer with 38 goals, 26 assists and 64 points. Hnatowich placed third, with 26 goals, 29 assists and 59 points. Romashenko finished fifth with 22 goals, 26 assists and 48 points.
“That just goes to show you that we didn’t get this done with just one player or one line,” said Gass. “This was the most talented group of forwards I’ve ever worked with, and our defensive core played most of the season down one of our best skaters.”
The Chiefs also boasted the best goaltending tandem in the SCAHL. Ty Tarvyd led the league with a microscopic 1.40 goals against average, carried a .940 save percentage and never lost a game. His 16 wins were good enough for second place.
Riley Stovka was right behind Tarvyd in every category. He finished with a 13-2-1 record with a 2.42 goals against average and .900 save percentage.
The Chiefs now turn their attention to the playoff tournament March 9-12 in Medicine Hat.
“I definitely feel more pressure heading into playoffs this year compared to last year. We only lost two games all year; teams are going to be coming at us hard. It’s the type of tournament where one bad goal, one bad period can end your season,” said Gass.
The Chiefs opened the tournament against the Foothills Bisons (4-30-2) March 9, and battle the Okotoks Oilers Green (13-18-5) on March 10. They finish the three-game round robin play March 11 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (10-17-9). The semis and finals are slated for March 12.
Winner of the South tournament will take on the winner from the North tournament next weekend in a best-of-three series to determine who will be moving on to provincials.
Last season, the Chiefs lost to Red Deer in the North-South series.
Warriors rolling into playoff tournament
The Wheatland Warriors were five minutes away from heading into playoffs on a four-game winning streak.
The local double-A bantam team (12-17-5) and Airdrie Lightning (10-22-2) skated to a 3-3 tie March 5 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Nolan Bailey, Kage Yellowfly and Zach Stangness registered goals, putting the Warriors up 3-2 midway through the third. Lightning-affiliated player Hunter Burgeson scored with 4:49 remaining, forcing the draw. Corey Ross racked up 24 saves.
The Warriors edged the 13-16-6 Bow Valley Timberwolves 5-3 March 3 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Mitch Tessemaker buried a pair and added one helper, as Yellowfly recorded one goal and one assist, with singles coming from Austin Kuryk and Trey Gillis. Logan Grant stopped 30 shots for his ninth win.
The Warriors South division tournament kicked off March 9 against the Lethbridge Hurricanes (20-10-4) in Okotoks. They take on the Okotoks Oilers (20-6-8) on March 10, and battle the Taber Golden Suns (23-9-2) in their final round robin game. The semis and final are slated for March 12.
Like the Chiefs playoff tournament, the winner from the South will take on the winner from the North next weekend at a chance to go to provincials.
Last season, the Warriors won the South tournament and swept the Central Alberta Selects, on their way to provincials.
Braves end season on a high
Matthew Dovichak saved his best performance of the season for the finale, as he made 15 saves for his first shutout.
The Wheatland Braves (10-19-4) blanked the 2-27-4 Central Alberta Selects 6-0 March 4 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Cole Whelan sniped one goal and two assists, Garrin Gosling finished with two goals, and Ryder Many Grey Horses, Philip Raycroft and Nolan Mahussier recorded one goal and one assist.
The Braves and Cranbrook Wings (3-28-2) skated to a 5-5 tie March 3 at Hussar Arena.
Cyle Clayton scored a pair and added one assist; Gosling supplied one of each, with singles coming from Nolan Bell and Mahussier. Dovichak made 11 stops.
The Braves are currently in Olds for their North division playoff tournament that wraps up March 12 at the Olds and District Sports Complex.
- Category: Sports
Just like they have throughout the Foothills Athletic Council season, the Holy Trinity Academy Knights stormed their way to a pair of championships over the weekend.
The Strathmore High School Spartans senior men’s squad entered the finals down two starters, but brought the energy early.
Unfortunately, the deeper, taller Knights squad pulled away to the 85-48 victory March 4 on home turf, capping off an undefeated season and defending their title.
“We were missing our two leading scorers, to lose them from the lineup was a big loss,” said Spartans head coach Matt Laslo.
The Spartans went punch-for-punch with the Knights in an intense opening quarter. Mackenzie Bain opened with a three-pointer and a finger roll at the rim, as the Spartans trailed 14-13 after one.
“It’s nice to see us bring a lot of intensity from the start of the game all the way to the end,” said Laslo. “We challenged our guys, knowing that we were hurt. We wanted to make Holy Trinity earn this and I think we did a good job of that.”
From there, the Knights started to net some threes and sliced the Spartans with pretty back-door passes, outscoring them 23-6 in the second frame.
Bain led the Spartans with 20 points on 7-of-24 shooting.
Kashtin Running Rabbit was throwing all of his low-post moves at the Knights and Connor McBean tried creating space for his mid-range jumper, but both struggled with touch around the tin. McBean finished with six points and Running Rabbit returned after rolling his ankle in the second quarter, to finish with seven points and four rebounds.
The Spartans were without three starters, in John Le May, Ryan Edwards and Caleb Funk. Laslo hopes to have all hands on deck as his school hosts the South Central Zones, running March 8-11.
The Spartans tipped off their tournament March 8 against the Canmore Collegiate High School Crusaders (result not available as of press time). Prior to tip off, graduating members of the senior girls and guys’ teams were honoured with a memory token and had a small speech read about the player.
The Knights senior girls avenged their FAC finals loss last year to the Foothills Composite High School Falcons, by downing the Strathmore High School Spartans 74-46.
Both guys and girls’ teams wrapped up the season with a perfect record.
The Knights came out firing in the first quarter with a 12-0 run, ended by a Pacey Strangling Wolf corner three. She went on to finish with 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, to go with two blocks.
When the Spartans rolled their bench out in the second quarter, the Knights capitalized, outscoring their opponent 18-8 in the second frame.
Around the midway mark of the third quarter, there was an exchange from one of the coaches on the Knights’ bench and one of the Spartans on the floor. Flagrant fouls were assessed, but both Spartan coaches declined to comment about the final or the incident following the game.
Brianna Kennedy finished with 14 points and Allie Davidson recorded eight points, highlighted by a running floater at the buzzer, to go with four rebounds.
The Spartans Zone tournament got underway March 8 at their home gym (result not available as of press time). They got to take part in the senior ceremony and play their opening game at home, before heading out for the remainder of their zones at Highwood High School.
- Category: Sports
They have been the top two teams all season in the Chrysler division. Now, a best-of-five series will determine who earns the right to participate in the Alberta Midget Hockey League championship.
The Calgary Buffaloes swept the regular season series against the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons, finishing one point ahead of the Bisons in the standings, earning home ice.
Game 1 goes March 10 at the Cardel Rec South Arena in Calgary. Game 2 is set for Strathmore, March 12 (7 p.m.). If necessary, Game 4 would return to Strathmore March 16 (7 p.m.)
The Buffs are coming off a clean-sweep of the Calgary Northstars. They will have two extra days of rest over the Bisons.
“I don’t think the extra rest matters at this point,” said Buffaloes assistant coach Tyler Helfrich. “At this age, the kids can get their wind back easily and they are playing for division title at this point; that should be enough adrenaline to get them going.”
The Bisons iced the Calgary Flames in overtime of Game 4, in a series that was played more tightly than how their regular season matchups played out.
Not wasting any time, Bisons head coach Sandy Henry was back in the film room 10 hours after his team advanced to the next round.
As for adjustments, there is one main area of concern for the Bisons coaching staff — the first period.
The Flames outscored the Bisons 9-2 in the opening frames of their series, including jumping out to 3-0 leads in Game 3 and 4.
“We just have to be more patient and a little more responsible in our own end,” said Henry, referring to their first-period woes. “We went full out a couple times and got some scoring chances, which was great, but we also gave up some big, big chances on the other end. We can’t play with a deficit all the time.”
Going off how the regular season ended, the Bisons and Buffs have a lot of similarities.
The Buffs buried the most goals scored (156) and allowed the fewest (67). The Bisons weren’t too far back, scoring 151 and yielding 76. Their records finished first and second, respectively, across the AMHL.
“Both teams have potency on the rush, like to create offence off turnovers, we like to get out in transition and skate, and so do they,” said Henry. “It should be a high-flying series.”
With the Buffs wrapping up their series ahead of the Bisons, Helfrich and the rest of his staff were able to take in a couple of the Bisons games.
“It’s clear that the Bisons are strong on the back end. Both teams take pride in their depth up front and are very talented,” said Helfrich. “It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”
The Buffaloes were the only team to shut the Bisons out this season, when they blanked the AMHL’s second-highest scoring offence, 3-0 back on Dec. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Taylor Gauthier was magnificent, stopping 31 shots to record the shutout. He was selected 10th overall by the Prince George Cougars during the 2016 WHL draft.
The Buffs clipped the Bisons 5-2 in the rematch.
The Bisons will be calling up a few affiliated players for this series. Tyler Petrie isn’t quite ready to return from a lower-body injury and Tarun Fizer will not step on the ice this series. Blake Wells picked up a game misconduct during Game 4 of the Flames series, and is suspended for Game 1.
Tucker Zdunich and Ryan Ries participated in all four games last round with the Bisons. Playing on a line centered by Boaz Bassen, Zdunich picked up a goal in Game 2 and Ries had a goal waved off in Game 4, as the net was knocked off its pegs.
Brandon Machado leads the Bisons with two goals and six points, followed by Kaden Hanas with four goals and one assist during the playoffs.
Jaxon Steele leads the Buffaloes with seven points.