- Category: Sports
It was a significant win on multiple levels for the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons Feb. 12 at the Strathmore Centre.
The 5-0 blanking of the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders (16-14-3) was their first shutout of the season, clinching a playoff bye, a much-needed bounce-back win on home ice, but most importantly, a chance to raise money for a family in the community.
The Bisons athletic therapist, Rebecca Thompson, has known Stephanie Boettcher for a few years now. Boettcher is a new mother living in Calgary, who gave birth to her daughter Aria on Nov. 9, 2016. Aria was diagnosed with heptoblastoma, a form of liver cancer. Thompson reached out to the Bisons with the idea of having a charity night for her friend, to help raise money for her daughter.
“We take interest in other people’s lives and Rebecca is around us all the time and a big part of our lives,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “We wanted to help her friend out any way we could.”
The Bisons raised over $1,200 in cash, gift cards and other supplies for the family.
“It’s so amazing, I am overwhelmed with how much support the team has provided,” said Boettcher. “I’m so thankful for all these people who I’ve never met, reaching out and helping me.”
On the ice, the Bisons (23-6-3) responded from their worst defensive outing of the year with their best defensive outing of the year.
Less than 24 hours after the Bisons yielded a 7-6 loss to the last place Fort Saskatchewan Boston Pizza Rangers (8-19-5) on home ice, they turned in their first shutout of the season.
“Our dee zone coverage got addressed after that game and I thought we were a lot more cognizant in our own end today,” said Bisons captain Brett Trentham. “We knew where the threats were on the ice and we weren’t just standing around, staring at the puck.”
There has been a slight in-house competition between goaltenders Hunter Young and Ben Laidlaw. The Bisons were one of two playoff teams without a shutout this season.
Which isn’t that odd, unless you look at the stats and see that Laidlaw is tied for the league lead in wins (13) and was among the leaders in goals against average (2.45) and until recently, Young owned the top save percentage at .926.
“We have come really close to getting [a shutout] this year, but lost it in the final minutes,” said Laidlaw. “When we were on the 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the third, I tried not to think about the shutout and just focus on the next shot.”
Laidlaw was strong when tested: the Cochrane product turned away 19 shots, including back-to-back breakaway opportunities by Zane Avery in the first.
Sent in alone on Laidlaw, Avery was interfered with, but still got his shot off only to be denied by the blocker. Rewarded with a penalty shot, Avery came in shooting again, as Laidlaw kicked the puck out with the right pad.
“He definitely earned the shutout tonight,” said Henry. “We controlled the play pretty well, but there’s always those four or five times when you need him to make a big save and he rose to the occasion.”
Putting pucks in the net has never been an issue for the Herd this season and it wasn’t against the Raiders.
Boaz Bassen netted the winner in the first on a spectacular passing play from Jackson Salt and Cole Clayton.
Clayton was named the player of the month for the Bisons for February and he picked up right where he left off, scoring on a slap shot from the blue line.
Peyton Krebs, Joel Krahenbil and Zach Huber also netted singles for the Bisons.
The win halted the Bisons two-game slide and clinched them a first-round bye in the Alberta Midget Hockey League playoffs with two games to go.
“The bye is something we set a goal for this year,” said Henry. “We think we play well enough at home and have the right type of team to play on the big ice surface.”
The Bisons sit three points back of the Calgary Buffaloes (23-4-6) with one game in hand.
The Bisons final home game of the regular season is set for Feb. 18 when they host the Dodge division-leading Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings (23-6-3). Puck drop is slated for 5:15 p.m.
They will wrap up the regular season on the road the next day in Medicine Hat when they take on the South East Athletic Club Tigers (8-18-6) at the Medicine Hat Arena.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School Spartans senior girls basketball team has been very strong this season. Last weekend was not one of their best moments, but will be used as a learning tool moving forward.
The Spartans hit the road for the Panda Classic tournament in Magrath Feb. 10-11.
Tournies have treated the Spartans nicely this year; they won their tournament back in December and captured the bronze in Olds at the end of January.
The Magrath tourney opened in familiar fashion, as the Spartans blasted the Brooks Composite High School Lady Buffalos 62-28.
That’s when things took an unfamiliar turn.
The Raymond High School Comets tuned the Spartans 80-32, and the host Magrath High School Pandas brushed back the Spartans 78-40 in the finale.
“We played some tough teams over the weekend and we learned a lot,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy. “It was our first real test this year and we need to execute and play with a little more patience.”
The Spartans returned to Foothills Athletic Council action Feb. 13. Playing in Okotoks, the Holy Trinity Academy Knights clipped the Spartans 74-59 in the second meeting of the season between the two teams.
The Knights edged out the Spartans 65-53 just before the Christmas break.
“We spotted them a 20-point lead. I thought we did a great job trying to come back from that, but it just wasn’t enough,” said Galandy. “I definitely think that some of the things we learned and experienced in the tournament helped us out tonight.”
The Spartans aren’t in action again until Feb. 24 when they hit up another tournament in Eagle Butte.
The Spartans senior boys host their tournament this weekend. Their first game is slated for 2 p.m. Feb. 17 when they host the Canmore Collegiate High School Crusaders.
- Category: Sports
It took a full team effort to knock off a two-year losing streak.
Alex Nwoye has been carrying the offensive load for the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior guys basketball team lately. Not playing his best game, the rest of the team stepped up to knock off the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves 63-46 Feb. 13 at the HCC gym, ending a two-year losing skid in Foothills Athletic Council action.
Sometimes, the shots just don’t fall. Nwoye, who has hit the 30-point plateau several times this year, went 4-of-17 from the floor, including going 0-for from three-point land.
“A lot of our other guys stepped up. Our bigs got some nice boards for us and points in the paint when the three-ball wasn’t going in,” said Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert.
Centre Luke Sproul was a beast in the paint, leading the Hawks with 13 points and 14 rebounds. Turner Dirk pulled down six rebounds to go with 11 points, and Reid Jensen hauled in five rebounds, recorded nine points and put the game on ice with a three-pointer with 1:27 remaining.
Even though it probably felt like there was a lid on the basket, Nwoye still finished with 11 points and was productive without the ball in his hands, collecting seven rebounds and four steals.
The Hawks (3-6) trailed 14-9 after the opening quarter, but hit the accelerator in the second once their full-court press clicked, outscoring the 4-5 T-Wolves 21-9.
The Hawks took on the Holy Trinity Academy Knights (9-0) in Okotoks Feb. 15.
Just prior to the guys’ game, the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks senior girls team smoked the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves 63-28.
Leading the way for the Hawks was freshman forward Hope Give, who turned in a double-double performance off the bench.
Like a bottle of Windex, she was all over the glass. Her 15 rebounds were a team high and drained 12 points along the way, including sinking 3-of-4 baskets in the second half and picking up three blocks.
The Hawks switched to a zone defense and it paid off as they dominated the glass. Wrecking-ball point guard Darcie Weir finished with eight points and 10 rebounds, Taryn Tanton contributed to the dominating rebound performance with nine of her own and Yulisa Solda recorded 13 points and eight boards.
It was the second time the Hawks (2-6) tamed the T-Wolves (0-9) this season; they dumped them 58-20 just before the Christmas break.
- Category: Sports
It’s about as tough of a loss that a hockey team can take.
Trailing 1-0 in the best-of-three Heritage Junior Hockey League South division quarterfinals, the Strathmore Wheatland Kings had their backs up against the wall, down 4-3 late in the third period at the Banff Recreation Centre.
That’s when the Kings leading scorer, Brooker Pretty Youngman, hopped over the boards as the extra attacker with the goalie pulled and parked himself in front of the net. Hayden Vanderploeg launched a shot from the point and the rebound sat nicely at Pretty Youngman’s feet. Whacking away, he tied the game with 47 seconds remaining, as the Kings bench erupted.
“We controlled the play for the third period and most of overtime. They just had a broken play, a two-on-two rush where they shot it, the rebound went through our defenseman’s legs right out to their guy,” described Kings assistant coach Braden Desmet.
That other guy was Banff Academy Bears leading scorer, Nathan Cohen-Wallis, who registered a pair of goals in the series opener.
“The room was obviously disappointed afterwards,” said Desmet. “This isn’t where we thought we were going to end up. We thought we had a pretty good chance against Banff. I’m proud of the way our guys came back and we were a couple coulda, shoulda, woulda’s away from evening the series back up.”
Indiana Kelly started between the pipes for the Kings after Brady Hoover was lifted in Game 1 after allowing three goals on eight shots. The rookie Kelly didn’t back down from the pressure cooker in the mountains, recording 38 stops in Game 2.
The vets stepped up when needed: Captain Keenan Ogle delivered the first two goals for the Kings, and Strathmore product Ryan Grasdahl brought his team within one at the 5:15 mark of the third period.
Matt Thomson returned to the lineup after serving his one-game suspension, but the Kings were still without George Montour and Nolan Lightning who were injured, and Brenden Moore was serving the third game of his three-game suspension.
It’s a Freaky Friday-type role reversal from the opening round of last year’s playoffs. The Kings were the lower seed that upset the Bears in two games.
The Kings were 3-1 against the Bears during the regular season.
For the Bears, they now advance to take on the division-leading Cochrane Generals in the Southern division best-of-seven semifinals.
- Category: Sports
The puck was on the stick of the league’s best player, on a breakaway, in a tie game with 10 seconds remaining.
Calgary NWCAA Stampeders (8-1-3) netminder Taylor Finlayson got fooled by Wheatland Chiefs Isaac Benoit’s array of movement, but kicked the potential game-winning shot aside with the left skate blade, preserving the 2-2 tie during South Central Alberta Hockey League action Feb. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“They are a pretty good team and they attacked us tonight,” said Chiefs assistant coach Matt Gass. “I thought it wasn’t our best effort and kind of disappointing, given everything this team has accomplished this season.”
The local double-A midget team (26-2-3) pounced out to a 2-0 lead in the first after Benoit finished off a textbook two-on-one rush with Kale Clouston and Kelton Travis, beat three Stamps down the ice, tried to stuff in a wrap-around attempt, only to have the rebound kick out to Brady Skiffington for his ninth goal.
Riley Stovka was solid in net, turning away 32 shots, as his record moves to 11-2-1.
“We should have lost that game if it wasn’t for his effort in net,” said Gass.
The Chiefs returned to their winning ways the following afternoon in Calgary when they trimmed the 7-3-5 CBHA Blackhawks 3-1 at the Max Bell Centre #2.
Ryan Bell sniped a pair of goals with Kale Clouston picking up the insurance marker from netminder Ty Tarvyd, who recorded 27 saves, improving to 13-0-2.
The Chiefs host the CBHA Rangers (11-2-1) Feb. 17 (7:30 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre, and take on the Foothills Bisons (3-26-2) the following evening at the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre.
Braves notch a win and a tie
It was a productive weekend for the local double-A peewee Braves squad, as they picked up a win and a tie in a pair of games over the weekend.
Philip Raycroft pulled the hat trick as the Braves dusted off the 12-11-5 Taber Golden Suns 5-3 Feb. 10 at Hussar Arena.
Josh Alberda finished with a goal and two helpers, while Cyle Clayon registered three assists, Tyler Fairbairn supplied two assists and Ryder Many Grey Horses notched the winner on the power play in the third.
A three-goal second period helped the Braves come back to tie the Red Deer Parkland Transmission (16-8-4) 4-4 Feb. 11 at the Dawe Centre.
Trailing 3-0 midway through the second, consecutive goals from Many Grey Horses (short handed), Carter Gosling and Raycroft set the table for the third period. Tate Yule buried his fifth on the power play to tie the game at the 9:43 mark of the third.
The Braves take on the Chestermere Lakers (11-12-5) at the Chestermere Regional Community Association Red Rink Feb. 17 at 7 p.m. On Feb. 19, they battle the Airdrie Lightning Red (6-19-3) at the Genesis Place Rink.
Warriors edged out
If the Wheatland Warriors could have scored one third-period goal over the weekend, things might have gone differently.
The local double-A bantam team was edged 2-1 by the Lethbridge Hurricanes (16-8-4) in a tightly contested affair Feb. 10 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Hurricanes led 2-0 into the second when Nolan Bailey chipped in his 14th from Adam Kirkpatrick and Mitch Tessemaker. Corey Ross made 27 saves, but the Warriors couldn’t find the back of the net in the third period.
Two days later at the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre, the Warriors (9-16-4) and the division-leading Okotoks Oilers (17-5-7) skated to a 2-2 tie.
Kirkpatrick opened the scoring from Bailey and Tessemaker in the first. With 2:02 remaining in the second, Bailey found the back of the net from Jarred Schrock and Tessemaker.
Only one game this weekend for the Warriors: they host the Taber Golden Suns (19-8-2) Feb. 19 at the Strathmore Family Centre. That one is set for 12:15 p.m.
- Category: Sports
Thirty-one groups participated in REVS (Registrations Education Volunteer Service) night Feb. 8 at the Strathmore Civic Centre. The REVS event allows groups to showcase and promote their services, sports groups and events.
The semi-annual event is hosted to allow groups, businesses and organizations to publicize their offerings to the community.
“It’s nice having everything in one spot where you can see what is available in town,” said Jessica Graham. “I never knew there were all these groups like a skating team or run club (before REVS night).”
The opportunity was used by the groups for the purposes of registration, providing services such as classes and assisting people, recruiting volunteers, promoting businesses, providing information to the public and fundraising.
Although spring REVS night is usually quieter than the winter REVS event, many organizations noticed there seemed to be even less booths, some tables were left empty and there were less patrons attending the event.
“There are not many families here tonight,” said Master McKenzie, owner and instructor at Victory Martial Arts Studio. “Years ago it used to be full, it is quiet this year.”
McKenzie attributed the poor attendance to the economy downturn, the recent cold spell and snow fall, and slippery roads.
“But even if no one comes (to our booth) this is still worth it to be here. If we get one kid to sign up that is good enough,” he said.
A perk of having less people at the event was that there were short or nonexistent lines to each booth, allowing people to spend more time talking with organizations.
“I am talking to a lot of people and getting a lot of good information about dates and times (of events) and how to schedule three kids so they can all do something and I can juggle them all,” said Graham.
Many organizations also attributed the low attendance to the availability of online registration which many groups have set up.
“Now that our registration is online, the only people coming here are new people making sure they have the right website and some who want to ask questions,” said Susan Biskup of Strathmore and District Minor Baseball.”
- Category: Sports
While some of us have stumbled through the New Year, the Platinum Elite cheer team has tumbled their way onto the podium.
Training out of Jumphouse Gymnastics, the Platinum Elite squad is comprised of girls and boys aged 10-15 years of age, a younger group compared to their competition that they have been dominating at events across the province.
Just this month, the Elite found their way onto the podium three times.
They captured silver in Edmonton at the Cold Snap Cheer and Dance Championship Jan. 21, second at the Imagine Cheer and Dance Championships in Lethbridge Jan. 28 and won the All Things Cheer Battle of Champions Feb. 4 in Calgary.
“It’s pretty rewarding, having watched these kids put in all the hard work to get the skills and to go out and deliver in competition,” said Elite assistant coach April LaChance.
The Elite crew performs a two-and-a-half minute routine during the events. Sometimes they are two day events, sometimes just one. They get scored based on the difficulty of their routine and how technically sound they are.
The cheer team combines gymnastics, dance and stunting, all rolled into one. Given a score out of 100, the Elite recorded 86 in Calgary and an 84 and 87 respectively in Edmonton and Lethbridge.
“Our athletes use tumbling, stunting, jumps and dance, but our program is known for how great our tumbling is,” said Elite head coach Cassi Weiss, who started the program seven years ago.
The Jumphouse also features a Matrix Cheer team for kids aged 4-15, but the Elite has experienced the most success as of late.
Practicing twice a week, you can find the Elites at work all year long. The season runs from September to April, but there are plenty of summer training sessions available for current and aspiring athletes.
“We’re not just creating athletes here, we’re creating adults,” said LaChance, who has two kids on the Elite team. “These kids learn critical thinking, trust in teammates and a sense of responsibility.”
The Elite look to keep the ball rolling with a couple of marquee events on the horizon. Next up is a two-day event in Warman, Sask., starting March 4.
The big ticket is set for April 7-9 in Vancouver for the Sea to Sky event. That competition provides an opportunity for a chance at a Summit bid, a.k.a., the Super Bowl of cheer events. The Elite compete at Level 3; the Summit is for Levels 1-5 and the highest competition next to the Worlds, which are only available for Level 5 and 6.
- Category: Sports
The U16 Zone 2 AA ringette team took their talents to the nation’s capital in search of some new competition.
The ringette squad is comprised of girls from Strathmore and surrounding area. They headed east for the 42nd installment of the Gloucester Cumberland Ringette Tournament, Feb. 1-6 in Ottawa.
Not your average weekend road trip to Red Deer; the coaching staff wanted to expose the team to new competition.
“We only play eight teams in our league, and we are going to Nationals later this spring, so we wanted to see what kind of competition the rest of the country had to offer,” said assistant coach and Strathmore native Rhonda Olson.
The ringette team started off great, brushing back West Ottawa 4-1 and blanking Gatineau 5-0 Feb. 3.
“They were all really good games. The reffing was a little more lenient than what we were used to, so the girls were able to play more aggressive,” said Olson.
The following day, the team from Alberta dropped a pair of games. First, Laurentides polished them off 5-2, and then they were clipped 7-4 by New Brunswick later that afternoon. No slouches, the two teams that got the better of the Zone 2 squad met in the tourney final.
Hailey Kenney, Daylen Wathn, Grace Olson, Jewlyn Foat and Elizabeth Proust made up the Strathmore representation on the team.
Doing Ottawa in style, the local ringette team stayed in a hotel five minutes from the Parliament building.
“It was a great trip for team bonding,” said goaltender Foat. “We took a tour of Parliament, we got to meet Member of Parliament Martin Shields, toured downtown and skated on the Rideau Canal.”
Olson’s troops gained some much-needed experience, as they plan on making a deep run at provincials and nationals this spring.
Provincials are set for Feb. 24-25 in Calgary and nationals go March 26 – April 2 in Leduc. Nationals will feature 20 teams from across Canada.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Wheatland Kings came out and laid an ostrich-sized egg in Tuesday night’s Game 1 of the Heritage Junior Hockey League playoffs.
After finishing the regular season 16-18-4 with 36 points, the fourth-place Kings earned the right to host the Banff Academy Bears (11-22-5) in the best-of-three Southern division quarterfinals.
These two teams met at the same spot last year, but it was the Bears who finished atop the Kings in the standings. Despite opening on the road, the Kings won the opener 7-5 in Banff and celebrated the clinching win on home ice in a 4-3.
Home ice wasn’t nearly as friendly as the Kings were hoping for. The Bears dominated the first period, putting three goals in a span of five minutes past Brady Hoover, en route to a 6-1 win over the Kings
“You can say you’re ready and say your mentally prepared, but when you put in that kind of effort, it shows you aren’t ready,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley. “Maybe because we had a good record against them in the regular season, they thought it was going to be a cake walk and we thought we were going to come away with an easy win, but we came out flat footed, our dee zone was atrocious, our goaltending was weak, nobody helped anyone out there.”
Hoover had been sidelined with a lower-body injury he sustained Jan. 6 during a 6-3 loss to the Cochrane Generals. He returned for the regular season finale against the Coaldale Copperheads after missing nine games. He played 51 minutes, making 36 saves on 45 shots and told the coaching staff that he felt fine after the game. The Kings coaching staff did not comment in regards to their Game 2 goaltender following the game.
Following Nathan Cohen-Wallis’ marker at the 9:27 mark, Hoover was relieved of his duties after making five saves for Indiana Kelly.
“A couple weird bounces were the death of me tonight,” said Hoover. “It’s kind of hard to recreate the game settings and the playoff pressure; it just wasn’t my night tonight.”
Whatever the message was during the intermission, it was definitely loud, and probably clear. The Kings came out in the second and there was more of an effort not only directing more pucks at net, but more bodies as well. The only problem was, nothing went in.
The Kings were playing drastically short handed. Alternate captain was serving his second game of a three-game suspension for fighting, Matt Thomson was serving his one game suspension after picking up a pair of 10-minute game misconducts in the regular season finale, defensemen Hayden Vanderploeg was away studying, both George Montour and Christian Halman were nursing lower body injuries and Nolan Lightning was unable to attend the game. Filling in were affiliated players Cort Armstrong and Will Kathol, who were both playing in their first game with the club.
“We need a full roster and the guys who are out, are a huge part of our game,” said Stoodley. “Especially with a guy like Thomson, who plays physical and would have opened up the ice for some of our other guys.”
If there was any positives to take away from Game 1, it was that Laval Jerry scored his first goal of the season, breaking the shutout on the power play in the third when a rebound kicked right out to him.
Other than that, time might be the best remedy for this Kings team. With four days off, Stoodley is giving his team some much-needed rest and hopefully can see a couple more bodies return to the rink.
There is no room for error, especially in the best-of-three series. The Kings have their backs stapled against the wall now, and will need to win out to keep their season afloat.
It’s a scenario the Bears were in last year and their coach of 23 years, Billy Doherty, is leaning on experience and trust moving forward.
“We just focus on us,” said Doherty. “We will bring our best effort to the table, focus on execution and being disciplined.”
This is a Bears team with great turnover. Their roster consists of 17 rookies and only six players returning from that playoff series with the Kings last season.
This season, the Kings went 3-1 against the Bears. To the Bears credit, they played their best hockey down the stretch of the season, going 4-3-2 in January (1-2 against the Kings) to sneak into the final playoff spot.
The two sides first met back in September, when the Kings dusted the Bears 7-3 in Banff. They didn’t faceoff again until January, where they played three times. The Bears buzzed the Kings 4-3 in a shootout victory Jan. 10 here in town. The Kings picked up two more wins, playing in a home-and-home series at the end of the month. First, the Kings crushed the Bears 10-4 in Banff before sliding past the Bears two days later 4-3 in overtime.
The Cochrane Generals (33-4-1) finished atop the Southern division for the second straight season, 14 points ahead of the Okotoks Bisons (26-11-1). The Mountainview Colts won the Northern division after going 29-6-3 this year.
The Coaldale Copperheads (24-12-2) host the Medicine Hat Cubs (8-24-6) in the other Southern division quarterfinal. In the North, the two matchups feature the Red Deer Vipers (25-12-1) taking on the Ponoka Stampeders, and the Blackfalds Wranglers (25-12-1) hosting the Stettler Lightning (18-17-3).
Game 2 is set for Feb. 11 in Banff. Should the Kings regroup and pull out a win, Game 3 returns to the Strathmore Family Centre Feb. 12 if necessary.
- Category: Sports
After a gut-wrenching loss in the Black Diamond tournament opener, the Holy Cross Collegiate senior boys Hawks basketball team salvaged a win in their final game.
The Sundre High School Scorpions stung the Hawks 58-57 in the nail-biting opener. The loss had ripple effects throughout the weekend.
“It was definitely an emotional loss for our guys,” said Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert. “Typically, when we keep teams under 60 points, we end up winning. Those tough losses makes it hard to bounce back the next time out.”
Alex Nwoye led the Hawks with 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting, to go with five rebounds and a pair of steals. Reid Jensen chipped in with 11 points and shot 5-for-15. Normally a team that can handle the three-pointers, the Hawks only nailed one triple on 17 attempts.
With the sapping loss still hanging over their heads, the Rosemary High School Rockets 80-56 torched the Hawks.
Nwoye collected 15 points, Landon Osachuk supplied 14 points and four boards, and Jericho Ricafort dished out nine assists.
The Hawks showed signs of life and bounced back in the finale, when they destroyed the Airdrie Koinonia Christian School Eagles 85-33.
Ralph Valencia turned in his best effort of the tourney with 17 points, Jensen recorded 15 points and Nwoye sank five buckets on nine shots for 13 points. Cordel Steadman hauled down eight rebounds and Kyle Gerencer yanked down seven.
The Hawks were scheduled to take on the Oilfields High School Drillers Feb. 6, but the game was cancelled due to poor weather.
This weekend, the Hawks travel to Vermilion for their second-straight weekend of tournaments.
The Hawks hosted the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School Spartans Feb. 8.
The senior girls also had their game at Highwood High School cancelled due to weather.
- Category: Sports
Strathmore’s Sam Walstra is locked and loaded after a brilliant showing at the Alberta Handgun Association & Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association’s 2017 Alberta Air Gun Provincials in Sylvan Lake, Alta. Now, she’s taking aim at the national level.
Competing in the provincial championships that ran Jan. 28, Walstra, 15, sniped the gold medal in the junior category of 10m air rifle, along with finishing third overall.
An outstanding haul for any athlete, but especially impressive considering that Walstra is brand new to the sport.
“I got a membership to the Calgary Rifle and Pistol Club (CRPC) for my 13th birthday and I was hooked,” said Walstra. “I was just shooting there one day and one of the coaches there recommended that I start competing.”
It didn’t take long for Walstra to catch on.
Last year, she earned the most improved shooter. Remarkably, one year later, she captured the honours again, marking the first time a shooter has ever won back-to-back most improved awards in the history of the Alberta Smallbore Rifle Association.
While the medals and most improved awards are great, Walstra’s greatest accomplishment was when she was named Alberta Shooter of the Year at provincials in Sylvan Lake.
“It was kind of cool to see all my hard work paying off; growing as a beginner and moving up to the higher levels,” said Walstra. “It just goes to show that hard work does pay off and can lead me to where I want to go.”
In the eyes of one of her coaches, Karl Schulze, he isn’t surprised at all by her rise to dominance.
“I’m not shocked at all by her results,” said Schulze, who has been a coach at CPRC for five years. “From the get-go she had the determination to excel and was committed to the sport.”
Living in Strathmore, Walstra only makes it out to the range two times a week. The rest of her time at home is spent working on her stance, practicing breathing techniques and firing air bullets.
Standing a smidgen over 5-foot-3, one would think that Walstra’s frame might be more beneficial for pistol shooting, but that’s not the case.
“Having good core strength and arm strength really helps,” claimed Walstra.
Some kids learn to shoot from sitting down, to help rest the gun. Walstra has been standing since day one.
Her strong stance allows her to remain unfazed while holding her seven-pound Hammerli AR20 rifle during competitions that require her to stand and shoot for 50 minutes.
In competitions, such as the one she dominated in Sylvan Lake, the women take 40 shots in the allotted 50 minutes at a target 10 metres away. Points are awarded based on where each shot lands, ranging from zero, to 10.9 for a bull’s-eye.
These days, Walstra is staring down the barrel at a chance at breaking into the National level.
With attending Nationals this summer at the PanAm Legacy shooting range in Cookstown, Ont., Walstra is eyeing a chance at making the junior national team.
In order to do so, she will have to score at least 393 points out of a possible 436 over her next couple of competitions.
“If she carries on with the same dedication and passion, I see her doing very well at National competitions and has a chance to compete internationally,” said Schulze.
Until that time, she will continue to hone her mechanics outside of her science-heavy course load at Strathmore High School with a dream of working in medicine one day.
- Category: Sports
The Crowther Memorial Junior High School junior varsity basketball teams hosted a tournament over the weekend.
The Cougars Red boys team saw the best results on the weekend, making it to the consolation final, only to get dumped by Youngstown School 31-28.
They won the tourney opener 34-31 in overtime against Brooks Junior High School. In the semifinals, the Wheatland Crossing Coyotes clipped the Cougars 32-30.
The Cougars Black boys didn’t fare so well, as they went 0-3 on the weekend. They return to action Feb. 17 when they travel to Three Hills.
On the girl’s side, the Cougars picked up a win in their final game, when they shed Brooks Junior High School 28-13. The lady Cougars opened the tournament with a pair of losses to Olds Koinonia Christian School and to Drumheller Valley Secondary School.
- Category: Sports
Caleb Funk threw a block party Monday night and everybody was invited.
The Strathmore High School senior boys basketball team downed the 0-8 Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans 73-55 during Foothills Athletic Council action Feb. 6 at the Strathmore High School gym.
Funk narrowly missed recording one of the rarest triple-double performances after accumulating nine points, eight rebounds and a Manute Bol-ian nine blocks.
“He’s a volleyball player first, so he knows how to go up and time those blocks well and stay out of foul trouble,” said Strathmore head coach Matt Laslo.
Both Spartan defenses imposed full-court presses early, grinding down the pace from tip.
Strathmore (7-1) led 37-16 at the half, but with Funk on the bench in the third, Strathcona made their push and took advantage in the paint, trimming the lead down to 13 at times.
“They were up to the challenge and we thought it was going to be an easy game. We got up and then took our foot off the gas,” said Laslo.
In that third quarter when Strathcona was making their push, senior power forward Jonathan Le May sensed the moment and took over.
Playing the role of distributor early, Le May took the rock three straight trips down the floor, weaving his way to the rack for acrobatic layups, restoring Strathmore’s big lead.
“He’s one of those guys who tries to get his other teammates involved and then he decided to take over in the third when it tightened up. He’s our go-to guy when we need some baskets,” said Laslo.
Le May finished with 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting, with 11 boards and four assists.
Leading the second unit when Le May and Funk rested was Pierston Kahnapace and Connor McBean.
Kahnapace picked up seven steals and finished with six points, while McBean supplied six points and five rebounds.
Over the weekend, Strathmore finished 1-3 at a tournament in Medicine Hat.
Strathmore took on the Notre Dame Collegiate Timberwolves (4-3) Feb. 9. Looking ahead, the Spartans host the Holy Trinity Academy Knights (7-0) Feb. 13 (7:15 p.m.). The Spartans also host their tournament beginning Feb. 17 at the high school.
Spartan girls win big
Senior power forward Tatum Wathen’s double-double helped guide the Strathmore High School senior girls Spartans to an 83-31 victory over the Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans Feb. 6 at the local high school gym.
Wathen capped off the double-double in style, slashing down the lane after receiving a bounce pass from Allie Davidson. Carving her way to the cup, hacked as she was going up, earning the and-one opportunity. Nailing the free-throw, she finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds and a pair of assists and steals.
“That was a great game for her,” beamed Strathmore’s assistant coach Leslie Larson. “Especially being a senior in her last year, those games are a lot of fun.”
Strathmore (7-1) found their stroke again, making good on 24-of-65 shots from inside the three-point line. Better looks and better ball movement appeared to be the solution, as Strathmore assisted on 17 of 29 made baskets.
“We’re always looking to make the extra pass, she said. “We try telling them, that, even though you probably have a good look at the basket, there’s usually someone out there with a better shot.”
There have been games this season where the ball hasn’t been going through, despite launching upwards of 17 shots. That wasn’t the case this time, as everyone was getting involved.
Coming off the bench, Pacey Strangling Wolf was a beast in the paint, finishing with 14 points on nine shots, to go with eight boards and three blocks.
Davidson was dominant all over the floor once again, registering 13 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sophomore forward Sydney Boyd racked up 13 points on eight shots and ripped down four rebounds.
Strathcona (3-5) never scored more than 12 points in any quarter, thanks to the swarming Strathmore defense that picked Strathcona’s pocket 23 times. Kaylin Larson led the thievery with seven steals.
Strathmore now prepares for a tournament in Macgrath this weekend.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Chiefs left no doubt about who is the top dog in the South Central Alberta Hockey League.
The local double-A midget team defeated the second place Medicine Hat Hounds 4-2 Feb. 5 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
The Chiefs are now 2-1 against the Hounds (20-5-4) this season.
Michael Murphy opened the scoring for the Hounds 2:11 after puck drop, but Zachary Suntjens answered seven minutes later on the man advantage from Lucas Muenchrath and Wacy Sandum.
Riley Romashenko supplied his 18th on the power play in the second from Chayse Hnatowich and Scott Desserre. Again in the second, returning the favour, Hnatowich buried his 22nd from Romashenko.
Up 3-2 late in the third, Robert Butterwick added the insurance marker from Muenchrath, as Ty Tarvyd made 27 stops between the pipes.
The Chiefs (25-2-2) return to action Feb. 11 when they host the NWCAA Stamps (7-1-2) at the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop is slated for noon. Playing in the big city, the Chiefs take on the CBHA Blackhawks (7-2-4) Feb. 12 at the Max Bell Centre #2.
Braves improve with win
The Wheatland Braves cranked the Airdrie Lightning White 5-1 Feb. 5 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
After a scoreless first frame, Cole Whelan found the back of the net at the 13:50 mark in the second from Nolan Mahussier and Cyle Clayton.
Mahussier and Nolan Bell added snipes to start the third, before the Lightning struck in the middle of the frame. Clayton registered a power play marker with just under eight minutes to go and Garrin Gosling bagged the empty-netter with three seconds on the clock, as the local double-A peewee team improved to 7-17-2.
Rhett Harten didn’t have to work too hard to pick up his sixth win, only making 11 saves in the process.
The Braves look to turn their strong play into a winning streak when they host the Taber Golden Suns (11-10-4) Feb. 10 (7:30 p.m.) at Hussar Arena. Hitting the road the next day, the Braves take on the Red Deer Parkland Transmission (15-8-3) at the Dawe Centre.
Warriors settle for a tie
The Wheatland Warriors and the 8-15-3 Medicine Hat Hounds skated to a 5-5 tie Feb. 4 at the Moose Recreation Centre.
Kage Yellowfly netted a pair of goals and one assist, Adam Kirkpatrick picked up three helpers, while singles came from Zach Stangness and Mitch Tessemaker.
Not only did Logan Grant make 23 saves in net, he also got credited for his first goal of the season in the second period. A delayed penalty was called against the Warriors, so the Hounds pulled Gavin Angstadt for the extra attacker. A pass in their own zone went awry and into the open net. Grant was the last Warrior to handle the puck, so he earned the empty-net marker.
The local double-A bantam team will now (9-15-3) host the Lethbridge Hurricanes (14-8-4) Feb. 10 at the Strathmore Family Centre with puck drop at 7:30 p.m. Two days later, they travel to the Tom Hornecker Recreation Centre to battle the division-leading Okotoks Oilers (16-5-6).
- Category: Sports
After starting the season on a 19-game unbeaten streak, the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons might not be the favourites to come out of the Dodge division.
The Calgary Buffaloes shut out the Bisons 3-0 back on Dec. 11 and completed the season sweep with 5-2 win Feb.1 at the Cardel Rec South Arena.
It’s an incredibly small sample size: the two teams only face off against each other twice in a six-month season, but the Buffs have come away with a pair of convincing wins.
“I am still comfortable with where we are,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry, whose team sits two points back of the Buffs, each with four games remaining. “I thought we carried the play well early. We didn’t finish on as many pucks as we should have [and] played a good pace, but we have to be better in our dee zone and stay out of the penalty box.”
Peyton Krebs notched his 14th of the season from Landon Melzer and Cayde Augustine at the 7:44 mark of the first. Fellow Okotoks native Jackson Salt tickled the twine for his ninth nearly two minutes later from Cole Clayton and Krebs.
Even with a pair of first period goals, the Buffs led 3-2 into the break.
The Bisons (22-5-3) racked up 16 penalty minutes, but only capitalized on one out of seven opportunities, as Ben Laidlaw blocked 24 shots in the blue ice.
With the loss, the door is open, albeit slightly, for the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. In all likelihood, the Bisons should finish with a first-round bye, in either the one or two seed in the division.
Snagging a bye is going to come down to the wire. The Buffs (22-3-6) sit three points up on the Bisons with three games remaining and will benefit from the remaining schedule. Their three opponents combine for a .447 winning percentage. The Bisons face a slightly tougher path, as their four opponents winning percentage sits at .496 per cent, while the Chiefs (16-4-10) face teams that combined for a .472 winning percentage in their final three games.
“We just have to get focused and understand that the last four games mean something and we need to take care of business if we want one of the two top spots,” said Henry.
The Bisons resume Alberta Midget Hockey League action, when they host the last place Fort Saskatchewan Boston Pizza Rangers Feb. 11 (5:15 p.m.) at the Strathmore Family Centre.
- Category: Sports
The 10th annual edition of the new format to the Laurie Morton Ruppe Memorial Ringette tournament was a smashing success.
The Strathmore Minor Ringette Association ran the tournament all weekend and featured more teams than ever before, 48.
Teams from all over Alberta and a couple of Saskatchewan locations took in the action. Strathmore put on a great show and captured a couple medals, as there were 12 local entries to go with 36 teams from elsewhere.
“It was a good problem to have,” said Jillian Gron, director of tournaments. “The association has grown so much, we had to squeeze everyone in, but it turned out to be a great tournament.”
The U12C Strathmore Ice and U16A Strathmore Ice brought home the gold, while the U12B Strathmore Ice ended up with the silver.
“There were several close games, lots of ties and one-goal games,” said Gron. “There was some great play this weekend and plenty of excitement in the stands.”
The U16A Ice clipped the Cochrane Rockies in their final 8-4 after skating through the round robin undefeated (3-0).
“It’s always nice to win your home tournament,” said U16A head coach Randal Praeker. “More importantly, we came together as a team and played really well, which is great, considering we have our playoffs coming up.”
For the U12C Ice, they needed to win their final round robin game against the Calgary Chaos just to advance to the playoffs, and they ended up winning it all.
“It was an exciting game, it was scoreless for a while, which was unusual, but they hung in there,” said head coach Travis Ericksteen, who’s team edged out the Indus Lightning 4-3. “I was really impressed how the team came together and gelled. Due to injuries and some sick players, our team hasn’t played too many games together this year.”
It was a long weekend at the rink with lots of help from volunteers and a binder full of sponsors. Gron stated that there was no way the tournament would happen if it weren’t for the help of everyone involved.
The next big event is slated for March, when the U16 provincials roll into the Strathmore Family Centre.