- Category: Sports
Over 70 people showed up for Peavey Mart’s free introductory to beekeeping class on Feb. 26.
“Hobby and small beekeeping is on the rise,” said Jest Sidloski, director of customer experience at Peavey Mart. “We turn a lot of these people into beekeepers and we give them support every step of the way. Every year the interest for these courses goes up.”
Peavy Mart has been offering beekeeping 101 courses for three years and have put on nine classes in four different cities in Alberta. This is the first time they’ve held the course in Strathmore, and due to the good turnout, they plan on holding an introductory to extracting course in late July.
The store started carrying beekeeping equipment a few years ago. Once they started bringing in live bees to sell, they decided they needed to start offering support and classes for beekeepers.
“This class is for general knowledge so people who are new to beekeeping can figure out whether they actually want to pursue it or not,” said Sidloski. “A fair portion of people who attend (these classes) are already beekeepers and they just want a refresher.”
The course teaches participants the basics: the history of honeybees, the differences between the honeybees, what their positions are in the colony and diseases and how to watch for them. Participants also learned what it takes to start their first hive; there is a high failure rate in some beekeepers’ first year so it is suggested they start with two hives
“We put a strong focus on the safety of the bees, that’s our priority,” said Sidloski. “The reason we offer this course and connect beginners to professionals is that we can’t have a bunch of new people doing beekeeping without any training because that would be irresponsible. We want to make sure the people who want to do it have the proper connections.
“It is very important for everyone looking to get into this industry that they ensure they are ready for it and they receive more advanced training. It’s not something you can wing, it doesn’t happen by chance.”
The course was taught by Thomas Hopkins, president of BeeSpace LLC and of Mellivo Beekeeping.
“If we’re getting people into bees we feel we have the responsibility to get them into it right. Not only for the fact of teaching them so they have a successful year of beekeeping, but also so they have the support they need,” said Hopkins, who also runs a Facebook page that all class participants are urged to join. Hopkins will help answer any questions or provide support through the page should new beekeepers need it.
Currently, the Town of Strathmore has no specific bylaw on beekeeping but they will be considering options for urban bees this spring. If a bylaw is set in place allowing beekeeping, it will follow Alberta’s Bee Act and any provincial regulations. The town also suggests interested people to become familiar with provincial regulations. This can be done via a smartphone app – Bee Health – which also acts as a resource guide for different diseases and pests of bees.
Alberta is the biggest honey producer within Canada.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Conservation and Wildlife Association (WCWA) held their 23rd annual wild game supper and auction on March 4, with 300 association members and guests in attendance.
Formed in 1994, the WCWA assists with wildlife habitat, and species management and conservation through education and community involvement, and is a chapter of the Alberta Fish and Game Association.
“[We] promote the ‘get outdoors’ initiative,” said Carl Carlson, WCWA president. “The number of members and hunters have been steadily increasing in the past five years, especially as more women get into the events and promote a family atmosphere. We want to make sure that continues and grows.
“It’s not just a man’s world,” he added. “The hunting, fishing and being outdoors is a family event, we really want to promote that.”
The buffet-style meal included dishes such as Morocca-braised goose tagine with almonds, crispy fried cougar with soy, honey and sesame glaze, and spicy elk chili with tomatillo, chipotle and 5 bean medley among other rich dishes. All the meat was donated by hunter members of the WCWA, and the dishes were prepared and cooked by BubbaQ Smokehouse and Catering.
A silent auction ran throughout the evening, with several guns, paintings, western jewelry and hand-drawn sketches up for grabs.
The dinner is the club’s sole fundraiser during the year, apart from a casino the WCWA works every three years. The proceeds from the event go back into conservation programs such as releasing hen pheasants in the county, planting trees, making bird nests, and creating duck tunnels and nests so birds may repopulate.
“A lot of it goes into our youth programs and our youth shooting program. We also pay for our youth to go to camps in the summer to learn survival skills and hunting skills, and to get their license,” said Carlson.
“It’s important because we do all our work within the county of Wheatland. Our youth programs help keep youth in hunting, fishing and outdoor events, as well as the conservation side of it, so that it all balances out and they can understand why the hunting takes place and why we also need to conserve,” said Carlson.
WCWA awards were handed out for the 2016 hunting season, including: wildlife photography, Cheryl Koltusky; scenery photography, Cheryl Koltusky; typical mule deer, Justyn Koltusky, a club youth member, with a score of 124 0/8; typical white-tailed deer, Wayne Graham with a score of 166 2/8; moose, Ryan Greir with a score of 130 2/8; ladies typical white-tailed deer, Natasha Mulligan with a score of 108 7/8.
MLA Derek Fildebrandt, an avid hunter and conservationist, attended the event.
“As hunters and gun owners, we’ve had some very big victories in the past few years. We can’t say where the federal government is going to go on this stuff, but I give you my word that if Trudeau Jr. tries to bring back a long gun registry of any kind, he can pry them from my cold dead hands,” said Fildebrandt.
The WCWA recently moved locations and are working to finish their trap shooting range. They are considering building a playground at their clubhouse so their youngest members have somewhere safe to play. They have a fishing pond and are also looking at getting into riparian areas as well.
“I think this is a heritage that we need to hand down to our children and get them outside. And it shows them where their food comes from; that knowledge is super important,” said Tina Carlson, WCWA hunting chairman. “If you think about the environment and conservation, are the [children] going to learn as much in a classroom as they will when you actually take them out? And what better ways for family time than to go out and do a project together? It’s a multigenerational experience that these kids are going to remember, whether they choose to hunt or not.”
- Category: Sports
It’s the old matchup of rest versus rust.
It’s also the same matchup as last year’s Alberta Midget Hockey League semifinals.
The fifth-placed Calgary Flames (20-12-2) have momentum on their side. They upset the third-placed Red Deer Optimist Chiefs, clipping them 3-2 in an overtime thriller Feb. 25.
The Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons are well rested. They finished with the franchise’s best record (25-6-3) during a 34-game schedule, placing second in the Chrysler division, earning a first-round bye.
“It seems like forever since we played a game,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “Our guys are getting ancy to play again.”
Game 1 of the best-of-five divisional semifinals got underway March 1 at the Strathmore Family Centre (result unavailable as of press time). It has been 10 days since the Bisons wrapped up their regular season in Medicine Hat.
With the down time, some of the billeted players were able to head home and rest up for the playoff drive.
“We got to understand that they are coming in with lots of momentum, already winning one series as an underdog,” said Bisons alternate captain Tyson Scott. “We need to make sure we come out hard early and kill some of their momentum.”
Scott is one of six Bisons that participated in the 3-1 series win over the Flames in the semis last season. The Herd also took both regular season tilts from the Flames quite handedly, crushing the Flames 7-2 back on Oct. 30 in Calgary and iced them 4-1 in Strathmore on Jan. 13.
The Bisons are hoping some time off, combined with a few hard practices leading up to playoffs is the proper recipe to regain their dominance over the Flames.
“We tried to ramp up practice this week,” said Henry. “I expect a little bit of rust for us, but hopefully our adrenaline is up in front of the home crowd and we get going after the first few couple of shifts.”
The rocking home crowd is something that Bisons captain Brett Trentham recalls from last year’s playoff push.
“The fans get crazy here, we got to ride the high from the crowd and carry the energy throughout the game,” said Trentham. “It’s a special to be able to play a playoff game at home.”
With Tyler Petrie out day-to-day with a lower-body injury and Tarun Fizer still a long ways away from resuming skating, the Bisons called up Tucker Zdunich of the Foothills Bisons and Ryan Ries of the Airdrie Lightning, both forwards from the South Central Alberta Hockey League. Ries and Zdunich have both appeared in four games with the Herd, the most by any affiliated player.
Between the pipes, Henry decided to lean on Ben Laidlaw, who finished tied for the league lead with 14 wins.
Henry has been flip-flopping his goaltending duo all season except on one occasion. Laidlaw started the quarterfinals of the Mac’s Midget AAA Hockey Tournament and got called upon again for the semis.
“Ben will start Game 1 and we will dictate it from there,” said Henry. “If he stays strong, then he will get another game. But I want Hunter (Young) ready, he has played the Flames well this year.”
Game 2 went March 2 (result not available as of press time) at Father David Bauer Arena. Game 3 is scheduled for March 5 (2 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre. If necessary, Game 4 would return to Father David Bauer Arena March 6 (7 p.m.), with Game 5 slated for March 9 (7 p.m._ back at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The first-placed Calgary Buffaloes (24-4-6) host the sixth-placed Calgary Northstars (16-16-2) in the other semifinal showdown.
The top-four seeds still remain in the Dodge division semifinals. The top-ranked Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (23-8-3) host the SSAC Boston Pizza Athletics (15-18-1), and the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders (16-14-4) take on the Leduc Chrysler Oil Kings (14-15-5).
- Category: Sports
The Zone 2 16AA ringette team had visions of provincial medals heading into action Feb. 24 at the Great Plains Arena in Calgary, but left empty handed.
“I think we were all expecting to medal,” said Strathmore product Grace Olson. “We were short a couple players early in the tournament, and that might have cost us a chance at playing for a medal, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Zone 2 opened the tournament with a 6-0 blanking of the Sherwood Park Power Feb. 24, but ran into trouble over the next 24 hours.
They were clipped by the St. Albert Mission 4-1 later that day and were doubled up by their rival, the Calgary Impact, 4-2 Feb. 25, knocking them out of medal contention.
“Our girls played well, they’re a little disappoint to not walk away with a medal, but they ended up with the lowest goals against average, and that’s something they can build off of as they get ready for nationals later this month,” said assistant coach Ronda Olson.
Zone 2 travelled to Ottawa at the beginning of February, as a way for more exposure against some of the better competition across Canada in preparation for nationals.
Nationals run in Leduc March 27 – April 1.
The Zone 2 squad closed out the tournament strong, with an 11-2 over the Edmonton Elite Feb. 25 and crunched the Power for a second time in the tourney, this time, 6-1, to finish fifth.
“Playing these teams and the teams in Ottawa, showed us that the girls are capable of beating any team we might run into at nationals,” said Ronda.
Strathmore is represented well on Zone 2. Hailey Kenney, Daylen Wathen, Jewlyn Foat, Elizabeth Proust and Olson were all key contributors at provincials.
In the meantime, Zone 2 plans on getting back to dry land training before playing a few exhibition matches prior to nationals.
- Category: Sports
The Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior men’s basketball team bounced the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Academy Spartans 69-61 Feb. 27 in the Foothills Athletic Council quarterfinals.
The Hawks came out and played with a bully ball-like mentality, scoring 16 of their first 21 points from inside the paint, highlighted by a Hail Mary outlet pass from Reid Jensen to Turner Dirk who finished with an impressive reverse.
As much as the Hawks were dominating the paint in the offensive zone, their defensive presence on the glass in the second quarter was lacking, as the Spartans clawed back into contention with nine second-chance points.
The solution was easy for Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert — insert the energetic big man.
Luke Sproul checked into the game at the start of the third quarter and provided an instant spark on both ends of the floor. He ripped down three boards (two defensive and one offensive) and got the ball moving in the offensive end, building the Hawks lead to 14. Sproul finished with eight points on 4-of-6 shooting, along with eight rebounds.
“I told him right before he entered; it was time to unleash the beast. He really performed and had a great quarter,” said Jalbert. “He had a great presence on the floor, made some great moves and nice passes.”
Hawks guard Alex Nwoye was getting to the bucket with ease, as he finished with 23 points. Midway through the third quarter, Nwoye collided with Spartans big Sam Grootelaar and got the worse of the collision, leaving the game for a significant time.
In his absence, the offence didn’t flow as fluently, despite Jensen’s team-high 25 points
“When we get pressured too much, we just start taking shots and stop relying on our teammates and getting the ball inside. All year, I have been preaching getting the ball inside,” said Jalbert.
Tied at 55 with 2:35 remaining in the fourth, the Hawks pulled ahead for good with a three-pointer from Jericho Ricafort, a defensive steal by Kyle Gerencer and another three on the ensuing trip down the floor by Jensen.
The Hawks took on the top-ranked Holy Trinity Academy Knights March 1 in Okotoks in the semifinals.
Jalbert has his crew working towards their peak level for the South Central Zone tournament in Three Hills March 10-11.
The Spartans senior girls squad didn’t fare as well in their FAC quarterfinal tilt at the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Academy gym.
They lost 76-26 on the road to the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Academy Spartans during Foothills Athletic Council quarterfinals action.
The tough quarterfinal loss didn’t end the Hawks season. They now look forward to their zone tournament, which is slated for March 10-11 in Brooks.
- Category: Sports
One of Canada’s greatest figure skaters was in Strathmore over the weekend spreading her knowledge to the up-and-coming batch of Olympic hopefuls in the Strathmore Skating Club.
“I hope these kids have fun today and are able to learn something that they can leave here with and use tomorrow and in their skating going forward,” said figure skating instructor Megan Wing.
Wing took up ice dance at the age of 14. She partnered with Aaron Lowe in 1986 and the two stuck together, wining six bronze medals and four silvers at the Canadian National Championships. They also skated in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, where they placed 11th.
“We got lots of positive feedback from the camp. There were about 40 skaters from all over southern Alberta, aged 7-16 (years-old) and the kids were all pretty tired afterwards,” said Tara Watson Shaw, president of the Strathmore Skating Club. “Hopefully we can have another one of these next year.”
It was a full day activity, as Wing took the first group onto the ice at 8 a.m. and wrapped things up just after 3 p.m. with a question period and a chance for autographs.
“We worked on the basic skills today, helping them skate better and perform better,” said Wing. “Whether it’s figure skating, speed skating, or hockey, the kids will be able to use these skills in any ice sport.”
“I thought it was pretty awesome to be on the ice with her,” said 12-year-old Bailey Heath of Cochrane. “She helped me with my posture, bending my knees and staying balanced on my skates.”
The next major event for the Strathmore Skating Club goes Mar. 17, when they host the annual Fire and Ice show at the Strathmore Family Centre. It is a chance for skaters in the club to perform the programs they have been working on all year and will have special guest skater Jane Gray.
- Category: Sports
Wheatland Warriors captain put the team on his back this weekend during South Central Alberta Hockey League action.
For his first act, Kage Yellowfly scored the winner Feb. 25 with 50 seconds remaining in the third, ending a six-game winless skid.
In his encore performance, Yellowfly pulled an Auston Matthews, finishing with four goals in the Warriors 6-4 dumping of the Cranbrook CPC Hornets in the blue arena at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“He was firing on all cylinders,” said Warriors head coach Cody Brown. “He always is for us. He brings good momentum into the rink and he got the ball rolling for us once again today.”
Austin Kuryk put the Warriors in the driver seat early, sniping his 10th on the year just eight seconds off the opening faceoff.
Nearly 10 minutes later, after a failed two-on-none rush for the Hornets, Yellowfly came storming down the ice, snapping a wrister from just inside the blueline, burning Tyden Wilson over the blocker.
In the second, Nolan Bailey fired wide of the net while shorthanded. Fortuitously, the puck careened off the end boards, right to Yellowfly for the easy tap in.
With 2:35 remaining in the second stanza, Zach Stangness did a great job keeping the puck in at the blue line on the power play. He sent it to Adam Kirkpatrick and Bailey, who worked down low, spotting Yellowfly out front for the one timer, stretching the Warrior lead to 4-1.
One thing that has been plaguing the Warriors down the stretch was their play in their own zone. Entering the second game of the weekend, they have allowed four or more goals six times in their past eight games, going 0-6-2 during that stretch.
Zach Nicholls sniped his sixth on the campaign while on the power play from a nearly impossible angle along the goal line.
The local double-A bantam team held the Hornets to three goals for nearly the entire game, but allowed the fourth marker with 7.2 seconds remaining in the third. It’s something that is still nagging at their head coach.
“There were still issues tonight,” said Brown. “We had problems getting pucks out of our zone. There are things we need to sure up in our D zone. The more time we don’t spend in our own end, the better.”
The Hornets added a pair of powerplay markers in the latter half of the third, before Yellowfly buried his fourth into the empty net.
One night earlier, Yellowfly netted the winner in crunch time from Kirkpatrick and Bailey, lifting the Warriors to the 4-3 victory against the Foothills Bisons Feb. 25 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Bailey picked up one goal and two other assists, Kirkpatrick sniped a pair of goals to go with his helper and Nicholls netted a goal with 2:03 remaining in the first period.
The Warriors wrap up their regular season with a pair of home games at the Strathmore Family Centre. First, they host the Bow Valley Timberwolves March 3 (7:30 p.m.), followed by a tilt with the Airdrie Lighting March 5 at 4:15 p.m.
CHIEFS TAKE TWO FROM OKOTOKS
The midget Chiefs swept a pair of games from Okotoks over the weekend.
First, they brushed back the Okotoks Oilers Black 4-1 Feb. 26 at Murray Arena in their second-last regular season game.
Riding a 15-game point streak, the Chiefs popped in the winner when Robert Butterwick answered with his 12th of the season, 41 seconds after the Oilers tied things at one in the first period.
Riley Romashenko and Tyler Skehar added power play tallies, Brady Skiffington registered his 10th on the season and Chayse Hnatowich chipped in with a pair of assists.
Ty Tarvyd was magnificent in net, turning away 36 saves for his 15th win.
The Chiefs cranked the Okotoks Oilers Green 7-1 Feb. 25 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Isaac Benoit notched a hat trick by the end of the second period; Hnatowich recorded a goal and two assists, with single markers coming from Kelton Travis, Wacy Sandum and Ryan Bell. Riley Stovka made 23 saves to scoop up his 13th win.
The Chiefs close out the regular season on home ice March 4, when they host the Central Alberta Selects at the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m.
BRAVES BLANKED AT HOME
The Wheatland Braves were blanked 4-0 by the Lethbridge Hurricanes Red Feb. 26 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
It marked the first occasion where the Braves were held off the score sheet this season.
Rhett Harten was under siege in net, facing 37 shots.
The local double-A peewee team concludes their regular season this weekend with a pair of home games. First, they take on the Cranbrook Wings March 3 (7:30 p.m.) at Hussar Arena. The following day, they Braves tango with the Central Alberta Selects at the Strathmore Family Centre (4:45 p.m.) in the regular season finale.
- Category: Sports
Amidst a long season, with playoffs and provincials around the corner, the Strathmore U16A Ice gave up one of their practice times to celebrate a younger team in the organization.
The Ice hosted the All Star Celebration for the Active Start and the U10 ringette teams Feb. 21 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
It was a fun evening for players to bond over mini games of ringette and other fun activities on the ice.
“We put together six fun stations (on the ice) to work on skills and we taught the kids a great new cheer. Our team ended the celebration with a mini dance party and then we sent everyone home with a goodie bag,” said Ice alternate captain Aubrie Hunter. Hunter also acts as a junior coach in the U10 league.
There was a game of soccer on the ice, relay races and balloon games as players from the each team interacted with one another.
“My favourite station was the balloon popping relay, it was really fun,” said Kennedy Jensen of the U10 Ice Pirates.
The Ice are back to preparing for their provincials, which begin March 3 in Medicine Hat.
- Category: Sports
After experiencing their first rough patch of the season, the Strathmore High School Spartans senior girls squad bounced back with a trip to the finals in the Eagle Butte tournament Feb. 24-25.
“Anytime you get to a tournament final, it’s pretty cool,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy. “We certainly played better, but we also weren’t up against the toughest competition until we reached the final.”
The Spartans clawed their way back from trailing by 16 points in the final to the host Eagle Butte Talons, tying the game with 30 seconds remaining. After the Talons went 1-for-2 from the charity stripe, the Spartans had the ball in their hands with the game on the line, but turned it over, losing 63-62.
“We got to play in a high-pressure game in the finals and that was definitely a learning experience and a good opportunity,” said Galandy.
Brianna Kennedy led the Spartans with 20 points in the final, including five three-pointers and Allie Davidson turned in a strong performance with 10 points.
In the semis, the Spartans cooked the Bawlf High School Wildcats 62-52.
The Spartans received an evenly spread out offensive attack, with Kennedy racking up 13 points, Ffyona Gibson-Smith supplying 11 points, Pacey Means dumping in 12 points in the second half and Davidson delivering with 12 points.
In the opener, the Spartans crunched the Kate Andrews High School Lions 76-29.
Kennedy turned in another 20-point outing, Davidson registered 14 points, Kylie Larson sunk four triples for 12 points and Tatum Wathen pulled in 10 points.
The Spartans hosted the Highwood High School Mustangs in the Foothills Athletic Council semifinals March 1 at the Strathmore High School. Should the Spartans advance, the finals are set for March 4.
All of the tournaments and FAC league play have lead up to the South Central Zone tournament, which kicks off March 8 at Highwood High School.
Key players missing
The Spartans senior guys squad were without a couple key players and experienced their first winless weekend this season when they participated in a tournament in Wetaskiwin.
Entering the weekend without Ryan Edwards (lower body injury) and Isaiah Simwamu (lower body injury), head coach Matt Laslo knew it was going to be a challenging one.
“It was a tough weekend for us,” said Laslo. “Probably the toughest competition we have faced in any tournament this year and we were missing a few key players and had a couple other guys a little banged up.”
The Wetaskiwin Composite High School Sabres clipped the Spartans 82-74 Feb. 25 in the final game of the weekend.
John Le May was economical, finishing with 25 points on 8-of-16 shots and six rebounds. Sharp shooter Mackenzie Bain was a little off this weekend and struggled from the floor, finishing with 14 points on 4-of-14 from the land beyond. Josh Filipionek wrapped up a strong weekend with 12 points on 4-of-10 shots, to go with five boards.
“We had guys step up and perform, and that’s something we are going forward into zones,” said Laslo. “Guys like Josh Filipionek, Connor McBean and Caleb (Wilchowy) played really well this weekend.”
Playing in their second game of the tourney, the Point Loma High School Pointers slighted the Spartans 80-74 Feb. 25.
Le May led the Spartans with 21 points and nine rebounds and centre Caleb Funk poured in 14 points and hauled down seven boards.
In the opener, the George McDougall High School Mustangs throttled the Spartans 79-55.
Le May supplied 21 points, Funk approached a double-double with eight points and 10 rebounds and Filipionek recorded six points and four rebounds.
Before the Spartans tip off in zones, there was some business to take care of in the Foothills Athletic Council. Finishing second in the league, the Spartans earned a bye into the semifinals, which took place March 1 at the Strathmore High School gym when they hosted the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves. If they reach the finals, it would take place March 4.
The Spartans host their zone tournament, which tips off March 8 at the High School gym.
- Category: Sports
One school from the Foothills Athletic Council (FAC) has stood and played head and shoulders above the competition this season.
The Holy Trinity Academy Knights (senior guys and girls) have been steamrolling the competition this season. That should come as no surprise; they are a 4A school (more population), competing against smaller schools, such as Strathmore High School (3A) and Holy Cross Collegiate (2A).
The Knights trounced the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior girls team 100-34 Feb. 15 at the HCC gym.
In the Knights 10 wins, their average margin of victory has been by 33 points, hardly competitive. Half of their wins have come by 45 points or more.
In their final game of the FAC, the Knights didn’t let up, pressuring the Hawks all the way down the court, even when they sat comfortably ahead by 40.
“That’s not how I would coach my girls,” said Hawks head coach Brad Everett. “I just told them to suck it up, go in there and do the best you can. How they run their team is none of my concern.”
The Knights are taller and carry a deeper roster than the Hawks.
Darcie Weir led the Hawks with 18 points, while Yulisa Solda, Jennifer Bautista and Destiny Stevens supplied four points each.
The Hawks (3-7) finished fifth and will take on the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Academy Spartans (4-6) in the opening round of the FAC playoffs. The Hawks are 0-2 against the Spartans this season, but played them close, losing 41-39 back in December and 53-31 Feb. 8, when they were short a few players due to injuries. Playoffs kick off Feb. 27 when the Hawks travel to Strathcona-Tweedsmuir.
Hawks look to playoffs
The Hawks senior guys team didn’t fare much better against the Knights in their tilt. They lost 74-41 to the FAC’s top team.
Alex Nwoye rebounded from one of his least impressive starts against the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves, with a 27-point, 11-rebound double-double against the very tall Knights.
The scoring fell off the table from there. Landon Osachuk recorded six points, Cordel Steadman finish with five points on two-of-four shooting and Reid Jensen sunk a pair of buckets to finish with four points.
The Knights senior guys squad has a 47.2 average margin of victory in their 10 games and has beaten teams by more than 30 points eight times.
Like the girls team, the Hawks (3-7) will take on the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Academy Spartans (2-8) in the opening round of the FAC playoffs. The Hawks edged the Spartans 89-82 back in Dec., but were slighted in the rematch, losing 64-60 in Feb. Tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at the HCC gym.
- Category: Sports
Despite getting upset in the opening round of the playoffs, the Strathmore Wheatland Kings organization should be proud of the Heritage Junior Hockey League season that just unfolded.
After a complete coaching overhaul and the installment of new management, the Kings cranked out their best record in the past four seasons and earned home ice in a playoff series.
“I like to think that we did better than expected,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley. “A lot of people had us pegged as a rebuilding year with everyone new coming in. It was great to see how it turned out.”
You couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season: trailing 4-2 at home to the Okotoks Bisons, the Kings stormed back with four third period goals, for the 6-4 win.
From there, the Kings went 3-6-3 through October, and the feeling of last season’s 13-23-2 record was becoming increasingly familiar.
Season-turning wins against the Airdrie Techmation Thunder (4-3 Nov. 20) and (7-4 Dec. 4) against the Coaldale Copperheads showed signs of life.
“We just had exit interviews with all of our players, and about 90 per cent of them were surprised how much they learned over the course of the season,” said Kings manager Darcy Busslinger. “I know that our coaches have a lot more to offer, we just need a little more consistency from our line up and I know we can improve next year.”
The Kings went 12-12-1 down the stretch of the season and earned the right to host a first-round series.
Much of their success early in the season can be directly linked to their 21-year-old net minder, Brady Hoover.
Despite missing nine games towards the end of the season with a knee injury, Hoover still finished third in the league, facing 861 shots.
“There was no doubt that he stole us a bunch of games,” said Stoodley. “He was outstanding for us.”
Hoover played in back-to-backs with a pair of rookies behind him in the depth chart.
When Hoover did go down, nobody knew how the two rookies – Pierre Wiederhold and Indiana Kelly – would respond to the workload.
Kelly was often found in street clothes at the beginning of the season, watching Hoover and the Kings from the stands. Thrust onto the game day roster, Kelly delivered, helping carry the Kings to the playoffs. He finished ninth in the HJHL with a .900 save percentage.
“It can be tough for those two guys, not seeing much ice time,” said Stoodley. “But Kelly came in, got into a groove and gave us a big push.”
Big and pushing can be a way best to describe the way Kings leading scorer Brooker Pretty Youngman drove to the net. The 6-foot-3 flank led the Kings with 26 goals and 24 assist, often driving to the net like a 10-pin bowling ball. He was named HJHL player of the week Oct. 23.
Alternate captain Cole Busslinger was the other King to receive player of the week honours Jan. 29. The blue collar, second-year centre racked up 14 goals and 18 assists.
“Brooker is very skilled in tight and Cole just works so hard. They both had great years for us and we needed them in order to be successful,” said Stoodley.
The Kings were also involved in a pair of significant community events this season. They took one of their home games out to Siksika Nation to honour a couple of graduating players, and held and enormously successful toy drive for Matt Thomson’s baby daughter.
“It’s huge to have events like that which involve the community,” said the manager. “We have already started planning some events for next season, as we look to build that tradition.”
Along with the in-game events, the Kings organization is already thinking about next season’s roster.
“This year was a learning experience for all of us,” said Busslinger. “I think next year, we will spend more time when it comes to picking the team. We are trying to build a reputation for this organization and that takes a long time.”
One area of improvment for the Kings moving forward, is their play in their own zone. They finished with a minus-19 goal differential (third worst among playoff teams) and allowed 175 goals against (fourth worst among playoff teams) and finished 3-5-3 in one goal games.
The majority of the roster is eligible to return next year, and the Kings staff has already been scoping out players from younger levels for new additions next season.
Moving forward, the Kings will put a lid on this season once and for all when they host their awards banquet Mar. 31 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
- Category: Sports
They treated it like just another win.
With the 5-0 victory over the South East Athletic Club Tigers at the Medicine Hat Arena, the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons put a bow on their best regular season in franchise history since moving to the 34-game schedule.
After the game, Bisons head coach message to the team was typical, complementary, but always with an eye focused on the next task at hand.
“I told them that I am proud of them for the effort that they put in and work that they accomplished,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “Now, the real work begins.”
Heading into the regular season finale, their playoff fate was already cemented into place as the number two seed in the Chrysler division.
This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill, play-the-season-out type of game. The Tigers (8-20-6) came out with a little extra vinegar in their strides.
Chippy right from the get-go, bodies were launching at one another as the Bisons (25-6-3) jumped out to an early lead.
The first period was all Bisons, as they outshot the Tigers 14-2, taking an early lead on goals from Jackson Salt and Joel Krahenbil.
Salt was positioned in front of the net when his line mate and fellow Okotoks native Peyton Krebs walked the blue line on the power play. Seeing his man in position, Krebs snapped one along the ice, perfect placement for Salt to get some wood on it and chip it over the Tigers netminder. Krebs 25th assist moved him into a three-way tie with Eric Blanchette and Jordan Biro of the Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings for the Alberta Midget Hockey League scoring lead. Krebs played in five fewer games than the Kings duo.
“Winning the scoring title was a goal of mine, if it’s meant to be, then I’ll get it,” said Krebs after the game, before hearing about what took place in the Kings finale. “If not, I’d much rather win the playoff scoring race and a championship.”
Brandon Machado came streaking down the right wing and drew the attention of the goalie and one defender. Nobody on the Tigers picked up Joel Krahenbil, who came steaming down the centre of the ice, calmly sliding the Machado rebound through the five-hole for one of his easier markers on the year.
In the second, alternate captain Tyson Scott entered the zone on a two-on-one with Machado. Keeping and shooting, Machado was camped on the doorsteps, taking a pair of whacks at the kick out, registering his 13th. Scott was credited with season-high five assists.
One week earlier, Hunter Young witnessed his goaltending partner Ben Laidlaw pick up his first shutout. In his last chance to pick up a regular season blank slate, Young was only tested 17 times. The shutout left him one one-thousandth of a percentage point (.929) behind Samuel Burford (.930) of the Calgary Royals for the AMHL save percentage title.
“We were all glad for him,” said Henry. “He’s worked all season for this, and I reminded the guys to go out and get this for him on the last couple of shifts without saying ‘the word.’ “
With Tarun Fizer still sidelined with an upper-body injury and Tyler Petrie week-to-week with a lower-body injury, the Bisons called up Ethan Strang of the AC Avalanche Minor Midget squad and Nathan Bailer of the midget AA Okotoks Oilers. For Strang, it was an opportunity to play against his brother, Austin, for the first time this season.
“That was the plan. We saw that AC didn’t have a game, so it was an easy decision and with Austin being a 17-year-old, we thought this was the last chance for them to play against one another,” said Henry, who narrowly dodged a clearing attempt behind the bench in the second period.
Machado picked up his third point of the game when he won a battle on the left half wall, found Boaz Bassen sitting in a soft spot in the Tigers defence just above the slot. He lined up his shot and ripped one top shelf, stretching the lead to 4-0 at the 14:18 mark.
Cole Clayton added an insurance marker at the 12:45 mark of the third as the result of a strong cycle play down low in the Tigers zone, making it 5-0.
The Calgary Buffaloes (24-4-6) won their final game, clinching the top seed in the Chrysler division. The Bisons wind up with the number two seed, one point ahead of the Bisons, earning a first-round bye in the AMHL playoffs. They will take on the highest-ranked team from the opening best-out-of-three series.
The best-of-five second round series kicks of March 1 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Calgary Northstars (number six seed, 16-16-2) will take on the Calgary Royals (number three seed, 22-8-4) in one of the Chrysler division quarterfinals, with the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs (number four seed, 19-5-10) hosting the Calgary Flames (number five seed, 20-12-2) on the other side of the bracket.
- Category: Sports
Two local lacrosse players were selected at the top of the Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) Junior B Tier 1 draft.
The Okotoks Marauders drafted Turner Dirk of Holy Cross Collegiate with the No. 1 overall selection Feb. 4, while Liam Iversen of Strathmore High School was taken right behind him by the Rockyview Silvertips.
It will mark the first time in seven years the two athletes will play on different teams. They played for Strathmore Lacrosse Club since novice and spent last season with the Rockyview Rage.
“Turner is a great kid. When we were doing our homework, chatting with over 100 different players and their families, Turner really impressed us with his love for lacrosse and his commitment level,” said Marauders assistant coach Ryan Hobday.
“I was pretty excited to hear that I went first overall, I didn’t think I was going until the fourth round,” said Dirk, who enjoyed Junior B action last year when he was called up with the Rockyview Silvertips for a few games. “It is going to be a big jump, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Last season, Dirk amassed 26 goals and 33 assists in 22 games for the Rage. The Marauders were impressed with his ball control, competitive level and the way he sees the floor.
“He has a great nose for the net,” said Hobday. “When he gets one-on-one with a guy, you know he is going to finish each time.”
The Marauders were awarded the first-overall selection after going 3-17 last season.
Selecting second were the Silvertips, and they already knew everything about the player they were going to pick.
Cam Foss will be one of the co-coaches for the Silvertips this season, and worked with Dirk and Iversen behind the bench of the Rage last year.
“We are pumped to have Liam,” said Foss. “I know him very well from last year and I think we made the right pick.”
Like Dirk, Iversen wasn’t expecting to go this high in the draft. He was out hanging with his friends when he got a call from his dad, saying he went second overall in the draft.
“I was shocked to find out that I was drafted this high and excited to learn that Turner went No. 1,” said Iveresen. “It is going to feel a little weird the first time I play against him.”
The Silvertips went 6-14 last season.
Iversen excels in the transition game, taking the ball up the floor and igniting his offence. Last season, he registered 10 goals and 36 assists in 22 games.
“He’s going to be a great player for us in transition. He is athletic, fast and he moves the ball up well,” said Foss.
It was a productive draft for the Rage, as they also saw six other players selected.
Teams have begun running training camp practices once a week, learning what their team will look like in the season once May rolls around.
- Category: Sports
Despite having a few players under the weather and one in a walking boot, the Strathmore High School Spartans senior guys basketball team turned in their best performance of any tournament this season.
What made it even sweeter was doing it at home.
Typically finding themselves on the consolation side of things this season, the Spartans made it all the way to the Strathmore High School Invitational Tournament final Feb. 18, where they were cooked by Beaumont High School 86-55.
The Spartans had to dig themselves out of a deep hole, after they trailed 28-5 following the first quarter.
John Le May did his part to help the Spartans claw back into it. He finished with 22 points, a couple pretty up-and-unders, to go with 12 rebounds. Mackenzie Bain was very un-Mackenzie Bain-like. He was second highest in scoring with 11 points, but took 21 shots to get there.
Earlier in the day, the Spartans nudged the Cochrane High School Cobras 73-68 in the semifinals.
Le May poured in his best game of the tournament, registering 32 points on 10-of-22 shooting, Caleb Funk dumped in eight points to go with 12 boards and Caleb Wilchowy ripped down 13 rebounds to lead the team.
The tourney opened Feb. 17 while class was still in session. Students filled the gym and got rowdy as they witnessed their Spartans tame the Canmore Collegiate High School Crusaders 77-61.
“It was a lot of fun to be a part of this tournament this weekend. You could tell that our players really enjoyed playing in front of a home crowd like this,” said Spartans head coach Matt Laslo.
Point guard Ryan Edwards was battling flu-like symptoms all weekend. While it wasn’t quite the Michael Jordan Flu Game, Edwards picked up a team-high 16 points in the opener.
The Spartans (8-2) finished the Foothills Athletic Council season in second earning a first-round bye. They now wait to find out who they will face in the semifinals, which begin Mar. 1. In the meantime, the Spartans will travel to Wetaskiwin for a tournament Feb. 24-25.
- Category: Sports
It’s something Wheatland Braves coach has been begging his players to do all year — out-work your opposition.
As the South Central Alberta Hockey League season winds down, the local double-A peewee team (9-18-3) find themselves playing their best hockey, and it comes as no surprise to their bench boss on the reason why the turnaround has occurred.
“We are finally beginning to see what happens when we bring 60 minutes of effort,” said Braves head coach Keith Klemmensen. “We come to the rink with the good feeling, that we are going to work hard. And the best part is, there is no ceiling on how hard we can work.”
The Braves dusted off the 11-14-4 Chestermere Lakers 3-1 Feb. 17 at the Chestermere Regional Community Association Red Rink.
On the power play in the first, Nolan Mahussier took the puck at the blue line from Adam Moore. He cycled it down deep, wrapped around the net into the slot and wired it top shelf.
Tied at one in the second, Ryder Many Grey Horses, who has been one of the better goal scorers for the Braves, received a friendly bounce when his cross-crease pass bounced off Lakers defenseman Nate Gillis’s skate and went in.
Many Grey Horses chipped in his 14th goal and the insurance marker in the third from Nolan Bell. Matthew Dovichak stopped 13 Laker shots for his third win.
The Braves five-game point streak was halted Feb. 19 at the Genesis Place Rink when the Airdrie Lightning Red brushed back the Braves 3-2.
Carter Gosling and Cole Whelan each recorded a goal and an assist as Rhett Harten made 22 saves in net.
The Braves have three home games to wrap up the season. The first goes Feb. 26 at the Strathmore Family Centre when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes Red (20-6-3). Puck drop is set for 1:30 p.m.
Chiefs improve win record
A pair of wins by the Wheatland Chiefs extended their point streak to 13 games.
The local double-A midget team doubled up the then Calgary-division-leading CBHA Rangers 6-3 Feb. 17 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Chayse Hnatowich registered a goal and two assists to lead the local double-A team, as Riley Romashenko popped in a pair. Lucas Muenchrath and Robert Butterwick recorded a goal and an assist each and Kale Clouston supplied one snipe.
The Chiefs (28-2-3) beat up on the Foothills Bisons (4-27-2) 8-2 Feb. 18 at the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre.
Isaac Benoit punched in four goals and one assist, Brady Skiffington picked up three helpers, while Tyler Skehar, Muenchrath and Clouston recorded a one-plus-one outing.
The Chiefs take on both Okotoks Oilers squads this weekend. First, they host the Oilers Green (11-17-4) Feb. 25 (7:30 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre. The following day, the Chiefs hit the road and battle the Oilers Black (16-11-4) at Murray Arena.
Warriors lose to Taber
The Wheatland Warriors were tripped up by the Taber Golden Suns 6-2 Feb. 19 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Zach Stangness recorded his second on the season in the first from Austin Kuryk. Midway through the second frame, Kage Yellowfly tallied a short-handed marker from Kegan Law.
The Warriors host a pair of games this weekend at the Strathmore Family Centre. First, they welcome the Foothills Bisons Feb. 25 (4:45 p.m.), followed by a bout with the Cranbrook CPC Hornets Feb. 26 (12:15 p.m.).
- Category: Sports
All students from Crowther Memorial Junior High School (CMJHS) were invited to take part in the school’s second Hockey for Hunger game of the school year on Feb. 15.
“This is the fourth Hockey for Hunger event showcasing our hockey program, and the second of this school year,” said CMJHS teacher, Anne Paskevich.
The game brought in around 250 items collected from students, which was less than the game that took place before Christmas.
Students who brought food donation items received raffle tickets, and at the end of the game tickets were drawn for students to win prizes, such as CMJHS toques and shirts.
The idea for the event came a few years ago when Paskevich saw a similar program on Facebook. With the help of other teachers, the program was adapted to fit CMJHS and highlight their already prominent and existing hockey program.
As the school often has shinny games, it is easy to get the whole school involved to donate to worthy causes while also letting the hockey teams show off their skills.
This year the Grade 9 hockey students were divided up into two teams that played in the Hockey for Hunger shinny. One goalie was a Grade 9 student, the other was Brad Huntley, the Grade 8 and 9 program teacher. Having a teacher in net had the crowd fired up as they cheered him on.
“This is actually our third food item drive for our students this year – we also did a huge soup [and other item] collection in November for the Veterans Food Bank, and a gigantic collection at Christmas,” said Paskevich. “We are fortunate to have such generous students within a generous community. They really just get it. They work hard at things like this.”