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U13 hockey provincials crowd packs Sundre Arena

Sundre Huskies reach championship final against Magrath Chiefs but “came up a little short,” says coach

SUNDRE — Life vibrantly returned to the Sundre Arena over the past weekend with the house largely packed with enthusiastic spectators when the U13 Huskies hosted a Hockey Alberta provincial tournament.

“I think we were probably at capacity for the arena on Sunday night,” said Aaron Johnson, the team’s head coach. “It was a packed house.”

Including the hosting Huskies, there were a total of eight teams competing — Smoky Lake Stars, Onion Lake Border Chiefs, Slave Lake Thunder, Northwest Warriors, Magrath Chiefs, Sexsmith Vipers, and Spruce Grove Muckers.

“The tournament was fantastic,” Johnson told the Albertan on Monday morning.

“I’ve heard from multiple people from different teams on how impressed they were with the tournament and the organizers. It was tough on them, because we didn’t know what regulations were going to be like and how it was all going to play out, but they put on a hell of a tournament.”

Keepsake programs printed on magazine stock were being sold to raise funds for Sundre Minor Hockey Association, with hundreds of people having come to town from Thursday, March 31 to Sunday, April 3.

“That’s the great thing here, is it really helps put some money in the account for next season to get everything up and rolling,” said Johnson, grateful the arena remained available this late in the season.

“It’s not very often Sundre keeps the ice in this long,” he said, expressing appreciation to the municipality. “Usually, minor hockey is done about three weeks ago.”

The Huskies played a total of five games — three in their pool to reach the semi-final round before going up against Magrath for the title.

“The boys did very well,” said Johnson. “But we just came up a little short against Magrath in the final.”

The Huskies came out of the gates strong on Thursday, March 31 in their opening game against Sexsmith.

“We were a little concerned about that game, but the boys played fantastic,” said Johnson, adding Sundre swept their way to a 10-1 victory.

Game 2 against Slave Lake the following day also went in their favour, with the Huskies winning 8-2. They maintained that momentum on Saturday, April 2 going into Game 3 against the Northwest Warriors and notching out another win, 6-2, which brought them into the Sunday, April 3 semi-final round against the Smoky Lake Stars. Sundre once again skated off the ice as the victors following that match with an 8-5 final.

Later that evening, the Huskies faced off against the Magrath Chiefs, who offered some fierce competition.

“We were tied at one after the first period,” said Johnson, adding the Huskies temporarily managed to take the lead 2-1 during the second period.

“But they came back and they scored two quick ones,” the head coach said. “We were down 3-2 going into the third.”

Trying to pull an ace from their sleeve, the Huskies attempted to roll the dice.

“Our backs were against the wall there,” said Johnson. “Our defence were pinching a little bit, and we were taking a little bit more risks and (Magrath) ended up scoring two more to make it 5-2. And then we pulled the goalie and they got an empty-netter.”

That brought the championship game to a final score of 6-2 for Magrath.

“We had a couple of unlucky breaks. We had a couple of really close calls — couple pucks didn’t go in the net. But that’s hockey,” said Johnson, who despite the loss was nevertheless pleased with the Huskies’ performance not only during the tournament but also throughout the whole season.  

“Right until the third, it could have gone either way,” he said. “It was unfortunate, but I’m still super proud of the boys and everything they’ve accomplished this year.”

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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