- Category: Sports
The eighth annual Pond Hockey Day returns Feb. 11 at the Gleichen Arena.
“This is meant to be a great day of hockey for all ages, as we get to enjoy some fun, competition free hockey,” said president of Gleichen Shannon Zieman.
The puck drops at 9 a.m. and goes until 4 p.m., with games played on outdoor and indoor rinks, with the addition of one ball hockey rink.
Warming weather conditions could turn the outdoor rink into another ball hockey rink.
The pond hockey event is for kids of all ages: from four, up to 17. Teams will be divided into age groups, mixed gender, and games will be played three-on-three with one goalie each.
The entry fee is $5 and Zieman wants interested players to register as soon as possible. Teams will play three games, receive lunch and a souvenir package.
It’s a great chance for kids to play a different style of hockey and make new friends with players from different parts of Alberta. Last season, players came from as far away as Fort McMurray.
For more information, check out the Gleichen Pond Hockey website or Facebook page.
- Category: Sports
Three hometown heroes returned to Siksika and entertained the crowd on the ice they grew up skating on.
The Strathmore Wheatland Kings skated to a 6-3 win over the 8-26-2 High River Flyers during Heritage Junior Hockey League action Jan. 28 at the Deerfoot Sportsplex.
Playing in their final season, the Kings decided to reward Brooker Pretty Youngman and Kristian Ayoungman with a game in their hometown. Defenseman Laval Jerry spent a couple years on the reserve and played with Pretty Youngman and Ayoungman, and it is believed that this will be his final season with the Kings. The Kings thought it was a perfect way to send off their graduating players.
“These guys knew it was a big night and it showed the way they came out,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley. “It was great to see the big crowd and reward the community with a win.”
Friends, family and fans of the Kings packed into the arena that was a few Oscar Seat Fillers away from being sold out.
“It was a pretty fun game. It was great to see everyone in the stands. It was nice to play a game out here,” said Pretty Youngman. “The memories started flowing back to me in the second period. It was excellent to be there, playing with those other guys in one of our last games.”
Before the action got underway, Siksika council member Hector Winnipeg addressed the crowd, thanking the three local players for their hard work and for bringing the game home. Pretty Youngman was joined by Flyers captain Josh Younker for a ceremonial faceoff following the speech and both were presented with gifts.
Responding to the hype and the emotion, the Kings stormed out of the gates, scoring three goals in the opening frame.
Newcomer Christian Halman got things going when he corralled a redirected point shot on his backhand, shoveling it to the upper half of the net. He has buried three goals in five games since being injected into the lineup.
Alternate captain Cole Busslinger was sent on a breakaway from Bradley Tingey, deked, opening up the five-hole, as he slid in his first of two on the night.
Busslinger would go on to be named HJHL player of the week for his four-goal, five assist performance in a pair of wins. He is the second King to earn the honours this season.
With a pair of goals before the game was four minutes old, Kings general manager Darcy Busslinger joked, “maybe we should play more home games out here!”
The man of the hour, Pretty Youngman, joined in on the first-period surge after Ayoungman won a battle in the corner, spotted his life-long teammate camped in the slot. Pretty Youngman unleashed his patented heavy snapshot, beating Billy Cawthorn blocker side.
“We came out on fire and then took a step back. That’s something that has been troubling us this year,” said Stoodley. “We need to play a full 60 minutes because games are only going to get tougher moving forward.”
In the second, the Kings (15-16-4) fell back into their old ways, allowing the Flyers to crawl back into the game with a pair of goals in the second, as they outshot the Kings 16-5.
Brenden Moore needed the help from his teammates to avoid going from hero to goat in the third period.
First, Moore blasted home the winner and his sixth of the season from the point on the power play from Nolan Lightning and Kody Hammond.
“The guys did great work down low, got the puck up to me in my sweet spot. It feels great to contribute on the score sheet like that,” said the Strathmore product.
With 197 penalty minutes this season, Moore is no stranger to the penalty box.
Twenty-nine seconds after scoring the go-ahead marker, Moore took a slashing penalty, as the Flyers looked to mount another comeback.
“I’ve got to give them credit; they blocked shots, put their body on the line for the team,” said Moore.
“That penalty kill the next shift out was equally as important as Mooresy’s goal,” said Stoodley.
From there, Busslinger added his second from Keenan Ogle and Pretty Youngman at the 15:10 mark.
Up two with time winding down, Pretty Youngman had a chance at an open net. Missing wide, he will tell you that it was on purpose.
“I meant to shoot wide so Kristian could score,” joked Pretty Youngman.
Harnessing the wide shot, Ayoungman was able to find the back of the net with 12 seconds to go, finishing with two points.
Following the game, the three graduating players posed for a photo and then the entire team headed to the entranceway to sign autographs.
Nearly 24 hours later, the Kings were back in action when they traveled to the Banff Recreation Centre and downed the Banff Academy Bears (10-21-3) by a Texas-sized score 10-4.
The momentum of the Siksika game rolled over for Pretty Youngman as he netted his fourth hat trick of the season. Busslinger led the Kings with a pair of goals and four assists, while Hammond finished with two goals and two assists.
In his return from a three-game suspension, Strathmore product Ryan Grasdahl sniped a pair, Ayoungman added one of each, Ogle recorded three assists, while Hayden Vanderploeg and Jerry registered two assists each.
The Kings hosted the Bears Jan. 31 at the Strathmore Family Centre. The Kings final regular season home game is slated for Feb. 3 when they host the Coaldale Copperheads (22-12-2). The Kings season concludes in Coaldale one night later.
- Category: Sports
The Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons entered the eye of the storm and walked out with a lop-sided Alberta Midget Hockey League win.
The Bisons bashed the Lethbridge Hurricanes 7-2 at the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre, in their second last road game of the regular season.
“It was one of those games where everything seemed to go in,” said Bisons assistant coach Paden Grant. “We weren’t overly great, but we strung a couple good shifts together in the first that resulted in goals, and then we just wore them down by the third period.”
Kaden Hanas, Tyson Scott and Zach Huber led the way in a blustery opening frame, which saw the Bisons take a 3-2 lead into recess.
Hanas and Scott have now scored in back-to-back games.
The slower second-half schedule hasn’t reduced the Bisons offensive inertia, as Huber netted his second goal, as Boaz Bassen found the back of the net while shorthanded, while Peyton Krebs and Tyler Petrie added singles in the third.
Huber has been scoring in bunches lately, netting five goals in his past three games.
Ben Laidlaw was being Ben Laidlaw in net, denying 26 Hurricane shots for his league-leading 12th win.
Laidlaw and Hunter Young have formed quite the duo between the pipes for the Bisons. With all the attention at the beginning of the year on the talent in front of them, all the tandem has done is shut the door night in and night out.
“It’s pretty unbelievable,” said Grant when asked what it’s like to watch the two go to work this season. “It certainly has made our job easy as coaches. They have our full trust to go out there and make the key save.”
Missing in action was Brandon Machado, who made his debut with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL. He is the third Bison this season to get called up to the dub. Playing in a pair of games with the Blades, Machado finished with a plus-one rating. He was selected in the fifth round (101st overall) during the 2015 Bantam draft.
Machado was back in black and red when the Bisons took on the Calgary Buffaloes Feb. 1 at the Cardel Rec South Arena (result not available as of press time). The Buffaloes are the only team to blank the Bisons this year, when they shut out the Herd 3-0 back on Dec. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“We owe them one. It’s important for us to beat them once in case we run into them down the road in playoffs,” said Grant.
There will be no coasting into the playoffs for the Bisons. Of their five games remaining (including the Buffaloes game), they will face the three teams immediately below them in the overall AMHL standings.
With six points separating the Bisons from the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs for earning a first-round bye, there is still a lot left to sort out in the final weeks. Two Bisons wins or a pair of Chiefs losses will clinch the bye for the Herd.
The Bisons will enjoy 10 days off after the Buffs game, before picking up AMHL action Feb. 11 at the Strathmore Family Centre when they host the Fort Saskatchewan Boston Pizza Rangers. The Herd tied the Rangers 2-2 back in November.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore Curling Club had 25 teams participate in their annual mixed bonspiel from Jan. 24-29, three more teams than those who participated in 2016.
“This is a great turnout, we are super happy about this,” said first time organizer, Randy Sander.
The mixed bonspiel has been around as long as there has been a curling club in Strathmore.
Teams from Strathmore as well as Calgary, Chestermere, and even Edmonton came out to participate in the bonspiel.
“We had a lot of sponsorship, around $15,000 in sponsorship from our local businesses,” said Sander adding that around 46 local businesses donated anything from a door prize up to $1000 for the bonspiel.
Some features of the bonspiel included a 300-number draw board with $5,000 worth of prizes to be won from it. Sponsored door prizes including a wine fridge full of 18 bottles of wine, a wine basket, a wine holder, and a John Deere gift basket were all donated. $6,000 in prize money was also handed out to the curlers.
“We couldn’t do this bonspiel without the support of our local businesses, all we can do is thank them because they are the real reason we are able to put this on,” said Sander, also saying that he encourages even more businesses to donate in the future as it helps the curling club and is good exposure for the businesses.
There were four junior curlers and one junior spare entered into the bonspiel as well, which is impressive considering half of them made it to the finals.
The finals were especially exciting as in two of the pools, the winners came down to the last thrown rock, and the B pool went into an extra end because it was such a close game.
Winning teams include:
A pool – Garnett team. Lead Jacqueline Wegener, second Matthew McDonald, third Trisha Kloschinsky, and skip Scott Carnett.
B pool – Clark team. Lead Bev Shaw, second Brent Ashlee, third Joanne Clark, and skip Stu Shaw.
C pool – Luyten team. Lead Sue Derbyshire, second Mark Zimmerer, third Judi Sommerville, and skip Fred Luyten.
Chinook Financial also teamed up with the curling club for the bonspiel, and for every person to register online, Chinook Financial donated $10 towards Strathmore Curling Club’s junior program.
“We have a very strong junior curling program. Junior curling is the future of any curling club, you must grow those young people, get them interested and keep them interested,” said Sander.
“We have a lot of good strong coaches teach them and we are looking forward to the future of the Strathmore Curling Club.”
“Should be positive for many years to come.”
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Braves salvaged the weekend and ended a mini four-game slide with a 5-3 trimming of the 8-13-3 Foothills Bisons Jan. 29 at Blackie Arena.
Tied 2-2 heading into the third, the Braves pulled into the fast lane and hit the gas, as they improve to 6-17-2 on the South Central Alberta Hockey League season.
Josh Alberda and Nolan Bell netted the first two, then Clye Clayton kick-started the third period barrage on the power play from Cole Tweit and Cart Golsing. Cole Whelan and Ryder Many Grey Horses scored goals within a minute of each other to wrap up the Braves sixth win of the season. Rhett Harten blocked 35 shots, as his record improves to 5-8 this year.
Two nights earlier, the Braves fell by the same score, 5-3, to the first place Medicine Hat Hounds (16-4-4) at Hussar Arena.
The Hounds led 4-0 deep into the third before the Braves were able to kick things into gear.
Philip Raycroft, Nolan Mahussier and Alberda rippled the twine, as Tate Yule and Bell racked up a pair of assists each.
The Braves are back in action Feb. 5 (4:15 p.m.) when they host the Airdrie Lightning White (8-16-2) at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Chiefs keep rolling
The Wheatland Chiefs racked up a pair of dubs away from Strathmore over the weekend.
First, they disposed of the 9-13-4 Okotoks Oilers Green 6-2 Jan. 29 at Murray Arena.
Robert Butterwick and Riley Romashenko both finished with one goal and two helpers, while Kelton Travis and Chayse Hnatowich recorded a goal and an assist each. Other snipes came from Isaac Benoit and Brady Skiffington. In net, Riley Stovka was leaned on to make 24 saves.
Playing at the Nexsource Centre in Sylvan Lake Jan. 27, Chiefs doubled up on the North division-leading West Central Young Gun Tigers 4-2.
Lucas Muenchrath, Wacy Sandum, Adiran Kusu and Hnatowich supplied singles, while Zachary Suntjens, Tyler Skehar, Kale Clouston and Benoit added assists. The Tigers dropped to 17-9-2.
The Chiefs (24-2-2) return to the Strathmore Family Centre when they host the second place Medicine Hat Hounds (19-4-4) Feb. 5 at 7 p.m.
The Red Deer Steel Kings doubled up on the Wheatland Warriors 6-3
Jan. 28 at the Kinex Arena in Red Deer.
Max Schafer took eight penalties for the Warriors, racking up 26 minutes all by his lonesome.
An issue for any team, the Steel Kings (8-14-3) poured salt into the wound by capitalizing with four powerplay markers.
Trailing 2-0 in the second stanza, Zach Nicholls popped in his fourth from Kegan Law at the 11:02 mark.
Adam Kirkpatrick sniped a pair of goals in the third.
The Warriors (9-15-2) take on the Medicine Hat Hounds (8-14-2) Feb. 4 at the Moose Recreation Centre.
- Category: Sports
The Crowther Memorial Junior High School Cougars hosted their senior guys and girls tournament over the weekend and walked away with a pair of bronzes.
Playing in their second tournament of the year, the senior girls captured the bronze medal after polishing off the Highwood High School Mustangs 60-25 Jan. 28.
In the semifinals, the Red Deer Lake Dragons clipped the Cougars 68-26. The Dragons went on to be crowned tourney champs.
“Red Deer was by far, the class of the tournament. I’m glad we played them in the semis and not our final game, so we had a game left to bounce back in,” said Cougars head coach Kyle Larson. “We took a lot from that thumping, learnt from it, the girls saw where they can get to if they put in the hard work and I think it really helped us moving forward.”
The Cougars opened the tourney by slighting the Oilfields Junior High School Drillers 38-28.
This weekend, the Cougars are off to Brooks for another tournament.
The senior boys also went home with the bronze after they crushed the Drillers 70-18 in the consolation final Jan. 28.
“Offensively we moved the ball well and worked off of each other well and half court defense was solid all weekend as well,” said Cougars head coach Kyle Schneider. “We have some improvements in transition offense and defense to become even better.”
A one-point loss (56-55) to the Brooks Junior High Hawks redirected them into the consolation final with the Drillers. The Hawks went on to win the tournament.
They opened the tourney with a 57-28 dismantling of the Trochu Valley School Jays.
Up next for the Cougars is a tournament in Calgary at West Island College.
The Junior B Boys played in a tournament in Trochu over the weekend and lost all three games.
They fell to the Jays 26-22, lost 27-21 to the Holy Cross Collegiate Hawks and were edged out by the Olds Koininia Christian School Royals 35-23.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Chiefs delivered the perfect birthday gift to assistant coach Matt Gregory in the form of a convincing win.
The local double-A midget team blitzed the Red Deer CanPro 9-1 during South Central Alberta Hockey League play Jan. 21 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
For the division-leading Chiefs, it was the fourth time they scored at least nine goals in a single game this season.
“It’s a lot of fun for the coaches,” Chiefs head coach Evan Barlow said, when asked what it was like to work with such a talented bunch. “For us, we are just trying to get them to play the right way as we get them ready for the next level. By playing the right way, we have gotten a lot of production out of them.”
The 22-2-2 Chiefs led 5-0 into the second before Red Deer (7-15-4) got on board. Robert Butterwick, Isaac Benoit and Chayse Hnatowich all recorded a pair of goals. Butterwick added three helpers to finish with five points.
Benoit continues to have a firm grasp on the league scoring lead. He also made his debut with the Whitecourt Wolverines of the Alberta Junior Hockey League Jan. 14 when they took on the Olds Grizzlys at the Olds Sportsplex. He didn’t record a point in his debut.
“It was a fast-paced, fun game to play in. That’s definitely where I am aiming to play next year,” said Benoit.
Zachary Suntjens, Adrian Kusu and Jared Kirkpatrick added singles in the Chiefs win, while Ty Tarvyd stopped 18 shots in net for his 10th win.
The amount of paperwork needing to be sorted out following the Chiefs 7-4 victory over the Taber Golden Suns Jan. 22 at the Taber Community Centre stands roughly 10 feet high.
The two teams combined for 133 penalty minutes, including 93 of them tallied in the third period.
Riley Romashenko and Benoit led the Chiefs with a pair of goals each, while Kale Clouston, Wacy Sandum and Ryan Bell each popped one in. In net, Riley Stovka was required to make 15 saves in order to pick up his 10th win.
The Chiefs take on the West Central Young Guns Tigers (17-8-1) Jan. 27 at the Nexsource Centre in Sylvan Lake.
HURRICANES STORM WARRIORS EARLY
A much calmer affair saw the Wheatland Warriors fall 7-4 to the Lethbridge Hurricanes Jan. 22 at the Adams Ice Centre.
The Hurricanes (12-8-4) jumped out to a 3-0 lead following the first, before Kage Yellowfly netted back-to-back snipes in the second. He leads the team with 14 goals and 24 points.
Trailing 6-2, Nolan Bailey and Cole Walker found their way onto the score sheet as the Warriors (9-14-2) dropped their fourth-straight match.
The local double-A bantam team will travel to Kinex Arena in Red Deer to take on the Steel Kings (7-13-3) Jan. 28. Their next home game goes Feb. 10 when they host the Lethbridge Hurricanes (12-8-4).
BRAVES BEATEN LATE
The local Wheatland Braves leading scorer gave his team the lead on a penalty shot with 2:26 to go in the third, only to see the Central Alberta Selects storm back in the final minutes.
The Selects trimmed the local double-A peewee team 4-3 Jan. 22 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
After a scoreless first, Nolan Mahussier netted his 11th on the year from Philip Raycroft and Clye Clayton. Adam Moore added his second on the campaign from Wyatt Yule and Clayton in the third. Matthew Dovichak turned away 21 shots between the pipes.
The Selects improved to 2-19-4.
The Braves (5-16-2) next game is Jan. 27 (7:30 p.m.) at Hussar Arena when they host the Medicine Hat Hounds (14-4-4).
- Category: Sports
They are taking it back to where it all began.
The Strathmore Wheatland Kings will host the High River Flyers Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m., at the Deerfoot Sportsplex in Siksika Nation.
The Kings feature three players from the reserve: Brooker Pretty Youngman, Kristian Ayoungman and Laval Jerry.
Pretty Youngman and Ayoungman are playing in their final season of the Heritage Junior Hockey League (HJHL). The Kings organization thought it would be a poetic way to end their careers by taking a game back to their homeland.
“Those guys have had great careers for us and we thought this was the perfect way to send them off by bringing a game to Siksika,” said Kings general manager Darcy Busslinger. “The people in Siksika are excited to see the game come to them. [It] should be a fun night.”
Jerry has one more year of eligibility left with the Kings, but he plans to attend Red Deer College next fall to study kinesiology. His return is unlikely at this point.
All three are in the midst of their strongest HJHL campaigns. Pretty Youngman leads the team with 41 points (22 goals, 19 assists). Ayoungman sits third in team scoring with 15 goals and 34 points, smashing his previous career high. Jerry is third among defensemen with 12 points.
At 13-16-4, the Kings are also experiencing their best season since 2012-2013, when they finished 17-19-1.
Pretty Youngman is a big, lumbering forward who loves to drive to the net. Ayoungman is a shifty centreman with a great handle for the puck.
The Deerfoot Sportsplex is about a half hour drive southeast from Strathmore. Many fans make the trip to watch the Kings’ home games, and even a few road games.
“We all think it’s an awesome idea. It will be nice to bring the game to them,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley. “It’s important to be able to give back to their community like that.”
Pretty Youngman and Ayoungman have been playing together as long as they can remember. With each game, each passing shift, the clock on their junior career runs out.
Pretty Youngman’s mother, Louise, was instrumental in putting the wheels in motion for the game to come out to Siksika, along with getting Ayoungman’s career going.
“She is my billet mom and Brooker is like a brother to me. We played hockey together all the way up. I’m very thankful for everything they have helped me out with to get here,” said Ayoungman.
Playing on the same line, Pretty Youngman couldn’t imagine ending his junior career any other way.
“To end it at the same place where it all began is pretty special,” said Pretty Youngman.
The Kings took a game out to Siksika years ago. Pretty Youngman recalls being one of the fans in the packed house. Ayoungman was unable to attend, but thought it would be great to play in a similar style game one day.
“We expect the rink to be loud and the fans to be excited to watch us play. It’s an awesome idea to have something other than minor hockey out on the reserve,” said Jerry, who lived in Siksika from ages five to eight.
- Category: Sports
The second period hasn’t been the friendliest of frames for the Strathmore Wheatland Kings this season, but they used a four-goal surge to power past the Ponoka Stampeders.
The Kings bounced back from a rough 8-3 loss Jan. 20 against the Medicine Hat Cubs to tune the Stamps 7-2 during Heritage Junior Hockey League action Jan. 21 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
Entering the game with the lowly Stamps (8-22-3), the Kings owned a minus-18 goal differential in the second stanza, by far their worst of the three periods.
But they flipped the script, scoring four times en route to the blowout.
“It seems like if we have been up by a few, we take our foot off the gas, and if we are down by a couple, then we get down on ourselves,” said Kings head coach Shadoe Stoodley about their second-period troubles. “But tonight was different and it was good to get away from that.”
Kody Hammond, Jaks Faris, Cole Busslinger and Brooker Pretty Youngman all factored in goals in the second period. Faris’ snipe at the 4:06 mark held up to be the winner.
Kings captain Keenan Ogle entered the zone and shoveled the puck to George Montour. Montour worked his way to the net, dangling in tight, before dishing it to Faris standing at the side of the net at the last second.
“I thought he was going to shoot it,” claimed Faris. “I saw him come in on the backhand, I wasn’t expecting a pass.”
Montour, Matt Thomson and Brenden Moore finished with two assists each.
“Everyone played great tonight. I could have sent anybody out there at any point and felt great about it,” said Stoodley. “That was a big character win after last night’s game.”
One night earlier, the Cubs (7-21-6) used a four-goal second period and saw a stretch of six consecutive goals to sink the undisciplined Kings. The Kings (13-16-4) racked up 83 penalty minutes and one ejection as the Cubs went five-for-14 on the man advantage.
“We weren’t ready from the drop of the puck,” said Stoodley. “It was a step backwards and, all in all, a bad game.”
Thankfully, the Kings reverted to their old ways from earlier this season, when they would bounce back with a win after a difficult loss.
“We don’t like being walked over like that,” said Faris. “This win gives us a boost moving forward as we get ready for playoffs.”
Local product and rookie Hammond turned in his best outing of the season, notching his first hat trick with 25 seconds remaining in the third — and it wasn’t via an empty net gimmie, either.
“I’ve been with him for the past three years now and he has a top-notch work ethic,” said Stoodley. “If he keeps working out there, he is going to continue to get open and those pucks are going to keep going in.”
Kings number one netminder Brady Hoover has been out with a lower-body injury for a few weeks now. He is set to resume skating soon, but Stoodley and his staff are urging him not to rush back.
In the meantime, Indiana Kelly bounced back from a rough Cubs game to make 34 stops as he picked up his fourth win.
With only five games remaining in the regular season, the Kings cannot climb any higher in the standings. At best, they will finish fourth in the southern division and host a first-round, best-out-of-three series. The Banff Academy Bears sit 10 points back of the Kings with two games in hand.
The Kings will host the High River Flyers (8-24-2) Jan. 28 (7:30 p.m.) at the Deerfoot Sportsplex in Siksika Nation. The Kings decided to treat the fans from Siksika and honour two of their graduating players, Pretty Youngman and Ayoungman, with a game in their hometown before their junior career ends.
The Kings are 2-1 against the Flyers this season, and grounded them 6-4 on Jan. 13 at the Bob Snodgrass Recreation Complex.
The Kings will play their final Tuesday night game of the year, when they host the Bears Jan. 31 at the Strathmore Family Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.
- Category: Sports
The Strathmore High School Spartans senior basketball teams picked up a pair of wins Jan. 18 when they took on their cross-town rival, Holy Cross Collegiate.
In what was a completely different game from their first meeting, the Spartans senior girls downed the Hawks 72-33.
“I thought they played really well,” said Spartans head coach Dion Galandy. “They played with desire and it was a much better game than the first time we played them.”
The Spartans cooked the Hawks 60-20 in the Foothills Athletic Council season opener back on Dec. 6 at the Strathmore High School gym.
With a couple more games under her belt, sophomore sniper Jennifer Bautista led the Hawks with 16 points, including three triples.
“She is one of the few players on our team comfortable taking three pointers,” said Hawks head coach Brad Everett. “She also has the smarts to know that when they aren’t falling, to take the ball inside to try and get easier shots.”
Brianna Kennedy poured in 25 points to lead the 5-1 Spartans and connected on four three-pointers. Allie Davidson continued her strong play with 17 points on 12 shots, including going two-for-two from the land peyond.Kaylin Larson was playing aggressive, getting everyn involved offensivley with six assists and was bombing three-point attempts, sinking three of them.
“January is a tough month for us to get going with the holiday break and the exam break,” said Galandy. “We were a little inconsistent, but we will work on it going forward.”
Something the Hawks (1-5) have been working on is a stronger presence down low. With two of Everett’s players sidelined with injuries, the burden fell upon Yulisa Solda, who finished with six points and nine rebounds, as she tried to spark the Hawks.
“Without Alex (Eygenraam) and Taryn (Tanton), we knew it was going to be tough,” said Everett. “But Yulisa is improving with every game. She is one of those players that you only have to show her, or tell her something once and she picks it up right away.”
Up next for the Spartans is a tournament in Olds running Jan. 27 and 28. For the Hawks, they travel to High River and take on the Highwood High Mustangs Feb. 6.
Spartans brush back hawks
In the guy’s game, the results were similar: the Spartans walked away with a resounding victory over a much-improved Hawks squad.
The Spartans opened the game by drilling five-of-six three pointers, carrying them to the 110-57 victory.
The Hawks struggled against the Spartans full-court press when they played earlier in the season. While the press still had the upper hand against the Hawks, their freshman shooting guard Alex Nwoye continued his brilliant play.
Soaring to the rim and knocking down step-back three pointers, Nwoye finished with a monster game, leading the Hawks with 30 points, 14 rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“He is very confident with the ball right now,” said Hawks head coach Josh Jalbert. “He drives with speed and he knows how to get to the basket. He showed some incredible skill with those step-back three’s. Normally, I’m a little hesitant for guys to take those kinds of shots, but he was shooting over 50 per cent on those tough three-pointers.”
He even caught the eye of the opposing coach.
“I don’t think people realize the degree of difficulty on those shots,” said Spartans head coach Matt Laslo. “He can score the ball in so many ways. It’s incredible what he can do in Grade 10. He’s only going to get better.”
The Hawks (2-4) had good looks, but couldn’t knock them down. In the second half, the defensive rebounding of the Spartans took over.
“We saw how quick [the Spartans] were moving the ball, and that’s something I have wanted to work on,” said Jalbert. “And when we get the ball into our sets, we need to be a little more patient and let the play develop instead of rushing our shots.”
Landon Osachuk was second on the Hawks with nine points, while Reid Jensen and Cordel Steadman ripped down six boards each.
Both Strathmore-based teams travel to Black Diamond for their next game. The Oilfields High School Drillers (0-4) welcome the Spartans (5-1) Feb. 1 and host the Hawks Feb. 6.
- Category: Sports
Timing is everything in hockey, from making a glove save to blasting home a one-timer on a power play. But for Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons centre Boaz Bassen, timing is the reason he’s still here.
The Bisons build their team by drawing players from around the Calgary area – everywhere from Okotoks to Drumheller, Airdrie to Nanton – but not typically from Illinois.
Bassen was born and raised in Pekin, Ill., about a three-hour drive southwest from Chicago. After jumping through a couple of hoops and filling out extensive government documents, Bassen currently lives with his aunt and uncle in Strathmore.
“We don’t take or recruit imported players. There are laws laid out by Hockey Canada from doing so,” said Bisons general manager Wayne Hansen. “Give huge credit to Bo, he put a lot of work in the summer to make this team off the ice and we are happy to have him.”
Luckily for Bassen, he had family connections in the area. His father, Mark, grew up in Calgary.
“The first step for Bo was for us to take legal guardianship of him,” said Mark’s brother Brian. “We went through the courts in Strathmore and we were granted one year of guardianship. But that still wasn’t enough for Hockey Alberta.”
Bassen drove up from Pekin early last June with his parents and three younger siblings.
Arrived and unpacked, Bassen still needed Hockey Alberta’s approval if he was to step foot on the ice with the Bisons. He needed Canadian citizenship.
With a Canadian father and American mother, applying for citizenship was going to be easier than if he had two American parents.
Immediately applying, Bassen now had to play the waiting game.
In the meantime, he began working out with some of the returning Bison players off the ice.
“Kaden (Hanas) was the first to reach out to me. I’m not sure how he knew I was here, but we started hanging out immediately. He really helped me out, encouraged me to make the team and drove me around,” said Bassen.
Working out with Bisons strength and conditioning coach Steve Stovka, Bassen was still waiting into August, when his siblings were starting school back home.
“I was definitely worried about not getting my citizenship. I thought I would probably have to go home at some point,” said Bassen, who likes to cook spaghetti with his mom and play drums in his dad’s band at church.
Then, with about three weeks until the Bisons camp broke, Bassen received his government documents to the approval of Hockey Alberta.
But there was still the issue of making the team.
“He was a complete surprise for us. We didn’t know anything about him. I heard he had been working out with a few of the guys, but that was about it,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry.
There were basically three options for Bassen: make the Bisons, go try out for the Calgary Royals and live with his other uncle in Calgary, or head back home.
Luckily everything came together at the right time, and now Bassen is playing a key role in the middle of the ice for the Bisons.
“I really wanted to come here and play for the Bisons,” he said. “I’ve heard so much about the program. I heard how well the school works with the team and I really wanted to play in the Mac’s tournament.”
Hockey is in Bassen’s blood. His father played for the Calgary Flames in the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament as a kid, before going on to play in the AHL for the Peoria Rivermen and Hershey Bears in the early 1990s, and for five different teams in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga from 1994-2000.
His grandfather Hank Bassen played in the NHL from 1954-68. His cousin Chad Bassen played for the UFA Bisons in the 1999-2000 season and scored 37 points.
The Bisons just wrapped up their Mac’s tournament experience with a strong run into the semifinals. Bassen scored the game winner on the power play and chipped in with an assist, when he was named player of the game Dec. 27 in the Herd’s 4-1 clipping of the Alaska Oilers at the Max Bell Centre #1. He would go on to add another goal, finishing with three points.
“It was a great experience to play in front of that many fans. These teams are a lot more skilled and physical from the teams that I am used to playing,” said Bassen, who was a member of the 16U Peoria Junior Rivermen in the Central States Developmental Hockey League last season.
This year, he has registered five goals and six assists in 25games, as Henry continues to use him in a variety of roles.
“He is responsible; he plays on the high side of the puck. He is a defensive centre with great offensive potential,” said Henry. “He’s a really likable guy who’s easy to be around.”
Living in a different country has had its challenges for Bassen. He missed American Thanksgiving and Christmas with his parents. Not to mention his Chicago Cubs winning the World Series for the first time in 108 years.
“I try to call home at least every second day,” said Bassen. “It was weird at first when I got here, but it was nice to have family to help with the transition and the team treats me just like anyone else in the locker room.”
With a break in the schedule from the end of the Mac’s until the team resumed action Jan. 6, Bassen was able to sneak home for four days. It was the first time he saw his parents and siblings since September. Enjoying his time at home, he also took in Team USA edging Team Canada in a shootout during the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Playing in his last year of midget hockey, the future presents another great question for Bassen: where to next? Whether it’s playing junior hockey somewhere in Canada or playing for a scholarship back home, he will be no stranger to adjusting in his new surroundings once again.
- Category: Sports
Blake Wells injected instant offence when he made his long-awaited return to the Foothills CFR Chemicals Bisons lineup.
Wells netted the winner as the Bisons smacked the Calgary Northstars 6-1 during billet appreciation night at the Strathmore Family Centre on Jan. 22.
“Today we won for more than just ourselves, we won for our billet families as a way to say thank you for everything they have done for us this year,” said Wells.
The Bisons (21-4-3) avenged their 5-4 loss to the Northstars (12-13-2) on Dec. 21 in Calgary. Following the dusting, the players presented roses to their family members in attendance and to their billet family members.
For Wells, it was his first game in nearly a month. He has been sidelined with an upper-body injury since the second game of the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament. Before he got hurt, he was tied for the team lead in goals and points.
“He’s a big impact guy for us. He’s fast and strong, and our lineup changes with him in it,” said Bisons head coach Sandy Henry. “We are glad to have him back.”
Tyson Teretta did a great job sliding over to the boards to keep the puck in the offensive zone. He wired a pass over to d-man Tyler Strath, who found captain Brett Trentham in the slot. Three Northstars and the goalie suctioned out to Trentham, who looked like he was going to shoot, but he made the extra pass, spotting Wells at the side of the net for the tap-in with 8:10 remaining in the first.
“It feels great to be back with the boys. I’ve been thinking about my first game back for the past month,” said Wells.
The Bisons also saw the return of centre Boaz Bassen, but also learned earlier in the week that leading scorer and Victoria Cougars prospect Tarun Fizer will be out for the considerable future with an upper-body injury.
“Any time you take the leading scorer out of a lineup, it changes it. But I am confident that we still have enough goals in this lineup to get the job done,” said Henry.
Winger Zach Huber netted a pair of goals during the first and second period. Having a great nose for the net, he scored his first on the power play on a nifty no-look pass from Jackson Salt and the second came from a great forecheck by Brandon Machado. Huber now leads the Alberta Midget Hockey League with seven power play tallies.
“I just keep reminding myself that if you go to the net, you’re going to get rewarded for it,” said Huber. “Tonight, I had a couple bounces go my way and I was able to take advantage of that.”
Machado was filling in for Peyton Krebs on the Herd’s top line, while Krebs was away playing three games with the Kootenay Ice. Krebs scored his first WHL goal, recorded three assists and was named the number one star during a 6-3 win over the Prince Albert Raiders.
Machado added his 12th goal and Tyson Scott wired home his sixth later in the second. Kaden Hanas found the back of the onion bag from the top of the slot on the power play in the third.
The Bisons took 28 penalty minutes and finished the game without allowing a power play goal, thanks to the stellar play of the league’s leader in save percentage, Hunter Young (.940). He also stopped Logan Heimann on a penalty shot with 3:15 remaining in the third.
“Hunter was real good again tonight. He had the frame of mind that they were going to have to make one hell of a shot to get it past him,” said Henry.
“Our goaltenders have been brick walls this year. It doesn’t matter if it is Ben [Laidlaw] or Hunter in net, they make big saves when we need them to and keep the momentum going,” said Huber.
The Bisons hit the road this weekend and travel to Lethbridge to take on the Hurricanes (7-17-3) at the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre. The Bisons will also battle the Calgary Buffaloes (20-3-4) for first place in the Chrysler division Feb. 1 at Cardel Rec South Arena.
- Category: Sports
The Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) honoured their best bantam players during the Elite All-Star game Jan. 14 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
It was extra special for Rocky Mountain Raiders centre Kaia Borbandy. The Langdon product got to skate in the inaugural all-star game with her family in attendance.
“It was a great experience to be a part of this event. Not too many girls get the opportunity to play in it and represent where they come from,” said the second-year Borbandy.
“It was nice to see her rewarded for her efforts. She trains very hard on her own,” said Raiders head coach Dustin Borbandy. “She is one of the first ones in on the fore check and one of the first ones back on the back check. Her line has had several opportunities at the net this season. Hopefully they get a couple more pucks in for their effort in the second half.”
The league divided the teams into a north and south team, and gave them the full NHL treatment with player introductions, an anthem and a topsy-turvy logo on a screen in one of the corners.
“Strathmore put a bid in and we thought they would do a good job with it. We know that they are one of the draw zones for the Rocky Mountain team, so there was a chance to have some local girls playing in the game,” said Hockey Alberta coordinator of programs and events, Melissa Drake.
The south squad carried the majority of the play through the first period, but headed into the intermission 0-0.
Borbandy was zipping around the ice. Starting at left wing, she was lined up with Hayleigh Craig (Lethbridge Cyclones) and Dylan Norrie (Olds Grizzlys). She had a pair of cracks at loose pucks in front of the net in the second, but couldn’t jam one in, as the north led 1-0 after two.
“I would see these girls in the regular season and think that they were really amazing. It was a great experience to play with them,” said Borbandy.
Things have been trending upwards for the Borbandy family in 2017. Earlier in the month, her older sister Emma won the Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament. The 14-year-old was very deserving of her all-star nod. She leads the Raiders with six points, and was joined by teammates Sydney Trotter and Shaye Parkinson.
“I wish all of my teammates were here to experience it with me, but I’m glad that they were here with me. They were both very deserving,” said Borbandy.
The Raiders will resume action Jan. 21 when they host the Grizzlys in Okotoks.
- Category: Sports
It was business as usual in 2016 for the Rockyford Minor Hockey and Ringette Association (RMHRA).
The program runs teams from tyke up to bantam with much-needed help from volunteers.
“It’s pretty simple. Without our volunteers, we wouldn’t have a program,” said vice-president Brad Munchrath. “They help out with everything from coaching to running the rinks.”
Munchrath has been on the RMHRA board for seven years now and is getting ready for tourney and playoff season coming up.
“We had a pretty good year last year, but we got our big events coming up in January and mid-February that we are all looking forward to,” said Munchrath.
Rockyford will host a tournament in January, and will prepare for playoffs at the end of the season later in February.
On the horizon, Munchrath sees a slight issue with the numbers. The older teams currently have more players than some of the start-up levels, so he realizes there might not be a lot of players at the atom and peewee levels down the road.
“I think that is just the way it goes in cycles over the years,” said Munchrath.
But those are issues for another time. Right now, he is focused on trying to get all of his teams into the playoffs in their respective tiers for Zone 6.
- Category: Sports
The Wheatland Athletic Association (WAA) is celebrating a banner year. The successful hockey organization turns 25, making it one of the oldest minor hockey programs in the province.
To help celebrate the quarter-century mark, an alumni tournament was held Dec. 28-30 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
“There were guys from some of our first teams, all the way up to guys from our graduating class last year,” said president Murray Brown. “It was a lot of fun, there were plenty of stories and laughs going around.”
Last year (2016) was very good to the WAA. It was highlighted by the bantam Warriors capturing the South Central Alberta Hockey League (SCAHL) crown, and the midget Chiefs being named south division champs.
The success of last season has rolled over into this season, as the Chiefs sit perched atop the south division once again, five points ahead of the Medicine Hat Hounds. At 20-2-2, the Chiefs have barreled over the competition this season, helped by a 12-game win streak. They own the league leader board with three players in the top-four in points. In net, Ty Tarvyd leads the league with a stunning .940 save percentage and 1.38 goals against average.
The defending bantam SCAHL champs started slow, but began to turn things around entering the holiday break. They are only three games back in the win column from a top-three seed in the south. The Warriors are led offensively by Kage Yellowfly (11G, 10A), Adam Kirkpatrick (9G, 10A) and Nolan Bailey (11G, 6A). In net Logan Grant carries a 6-4-2 record to go with a respectable .900 save percentage and 3.01 goals against average.
After taking a year off from coaching the peewee Braves, Keith Klemmensen and Slavo Halkovic are trying to instill a good work ethic in their young players.
“With Chestermere getting its own team this year, that kind of lightened the pool from guys to choose from. I’m glad Keith and Slavo are back, and the team seems to be coming along nicely,” said Brown.
The Braves currently sit seventh in the north division, led by Nolan Mahussier (10G, 12A), Tyler Fairbairn (14G, 8A) and Philip Raycroft (12G, 8A). The goaltending has been split down the middle, with Matthew Dovichak going 2-7-1 with a .840 save percentage and a 4.45 GAA, while Rhett Harten sits 3-8 with a .820 save percentage and a 5.09 GAA.
- Category: Sports
Despite the downtick in the economy, the Strathmore Minor Hockey Association (SMHA) has seen inflation in their numbers program-wide.
SMHA went from having just under 400 skaters last year to 455 this year, while projecting to add three more teams next season.
“We were pretty shocked to see our numbers rise like they did considering the way the economy has been lately,” said SMHA secretary Natalie Haslund.
Having a finger on the pulse of the market has seemed to help improve things. They made payments easier on families during these difficult times by offering extended payment plans.
Running ripe with numbers, the SMHA offers programs all the way from Intro to Hockey, Timbits, up to the midget level, with the number of teams being maxed out along the way.
Even the girls programs are on the rise. One of the marquee events of the New Year happened Jan. 14 when the Strathmore Family Centre hosted the inaugural Alberta Female Hockey League Elite All-Star game.
“It’s events like that that help grow awareness of female hockey in this area. Our numbers for the girl’s teams are up, and we are looking to add an atom program next year,” said Haslund. “We want to give the girls another option other than ringette and help build competiveness at an early age.”
The season of prime time events put on by the SMHA started back in November when they hosted a successful 20-team atom tournament.
Last December, SMHA was granted the rights to host another major event, the midget A provincials, running March 23-29 at the Strathmore Family Centre. The tournament will feature the Top 10 teams from across Alberta, including the host Strathmore Storm.
Haslund and the rest of the SMHA will have their hands full the next couple of months as they try to land volunteer support and put together what they hope will be a fantastic tournament.