Above: Sylvan Lake players celebrate their provincials win as a Chestermere player skates by.
– Stephen Dafoe Photos
by Stephen Dafoe
The bleachers were full for four straight days at the Ray McDonald Sports Center for the Hockey Alberta Atom AA Provincials. Nine teams joined the host Sturgeon Hockey Club Mustangs. Pool A included Sturgeon, Cold Lake, Olds, Sylvan Lake, and SWZ. Pool B included St. Albert, Chestermere, Strathcona, Okotoks, and Glen Lake. The games took place in Legal as well as Morinville.
The tournament started Thursday night with official opening ceremonies taking place Friday in Morinville.
Sunday morning saw the Pool A, and Pool B semi-finals hit the ice in the morning and the championship final at 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
In that contest, the Sylvan Lake Lakers defeated the Chestermere Lakers 15-7.
The Sturgeon Hockey Club AA Mustangs took on SWZ on Thursday night and won 6-2. They next played Sylvan Lake on Friday morning and lost 6-2. Later that night the Mustangs took on Cold Lake and fell 9-3. Saturday had the Mustangs moving to Legal to face Olds, a contest they lost 7-5.
Sturgeon Hockey Club President Wayne Gatza said the Mustangs could be proud of their efforts during provincials.
“Our team played really well. They had a tough week. They finished with gold in their league on Wednesday night. They had played three games before provincials started,” Gatza said. “They had a great showing. I was very proud of them.
Gatza said bringing provincials to town is an opportunity for players to experience a provincial Championship, something he said a minor hockey player might go through their entire career without experiencing.
“It was an outstanding weekend for the young players,” Gatza said. “They got to experience coming out on the ice to a light show. Each player was announced every game, and they played O Canada before every game. The players got little MVP player sticks to hang on the wall, and they were really excited about that.”
Gatza said the action over the weekend was great with some close games throughout the four days.
This past weekend was the second Provincials Gatza has snagged for the community. A few years back, he was involved in bringing the Senior AA Provincials to Morinville, a weekend that saw eight teams hit the ice and the newly-minted Morinville Kings hoisting the Cup and gold medals above their heads.