Logan Hermus won a peewee football title with Stettler and a provincial bantam AA hockey championship with the Kneehill Chiefs, but his fresh hat-trick banner ranks as the sweetest.
Hermus, a Big Valley defenceman now living in Red Deer, helped the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs win the Alberta Midget Hockey League championship last weekend as they went the distance in the best-of-five final against the SSAC Athletics of Edmonton.
“This isn’t my first championship, but it’s definitely the best feeling,” Hermus said after Red Deer won 1-0 in Game 5 on Saturday at the venerable Red Deer Arena.
“There’s been a couple of championships, but nothing compares to this, though. This is incredible.”
Sporting his gold medal and championship hat — not to mention a wide smile — Hermus could also empathize with the Athletics as they narrowly missed a golden finish.
Last season, he captained a Red Deer minor midget club that came just short of capturing provincial gold.
“Yeah, I definitely know what those guys are feeling over there,” Hermus said of the Athletics.
“It’s great to be on the other end of it this time. I just know what they’re going through and it’s so much better to be on this side.”
Hermus scored a couple of playoff goals, including a game-winner earlier in the final. Most of all, he played solid defence on a Red Deer club battered with injuries, particularly on defence.
“I do whatever I can to help the team out, no matter what role it is,” said Hermus, who turned 17 in January. “I just to do my best to help the team win, and that’s what the ultimate goal is.
“Playing defence, keeping the puck out of our net, getting pucks out (of the zone) and making smart plays. Whatever you can do to contribute to sacrifice the body — a big hit to make a play.”
Veteran coach Doug Quinn, whose Chiefs won their fourth straight provincial championship, counted on Hermus to provide depth on defence.
“Everybody has a role within this group, and Logan’s role this year wasn’t a front-end position probably like it was last year,” Quinn said. “But he’s been a great team guy and he’s accepted that role. He’s worked hard in games and practices. When he gets the opportunity, he performs like other people do.
“When I look back, we’ve never had the injuries like we had this year. And we missed a lot of key guys — (defencemen) Colton Bobyk and then Gabe Bast missed a lot of time. But the other kids rallied around each other and we had other guys step up and fill roles. And at the end of the day, they had success.”
Red Deer had just three players back from last season’s national championship squad, but the Chiefs didn’t let that math complicate their drive for another title.
“Over the years, it’s always been a team-first attitude,” Quinn said.
“We expect a work ethic. The kids, once they buy in and they realize when they come together and support each other that team is a big thing and usually you have success if you stick with it.”
Hermus is appreciative he stuck with the celebrated midget AAA team last fall. His family moved to Red Deer last summer, making his hockey and school schedule more compatible than driving back and forth from Big Valley. He’s a Grade 11 student at Notre Dame High School.
“I’m really enjoying it,” Hermus said. “It’s a great change. It’s such a big school. I enjoy living in Red Deer, but I miss Stettler quite a bit as well.”
His mother Carol and 13-year-old brother Brock were clad in Red Deer colours as they witnessed his golden moment last Saturday.
The lone goal was scored by Delburne’s Rory Davidson, a centre who was on the same Kneehill bantam AA team that won the provincial crown two years ago.
“This is our second time together as provincial champions,” Hermus said. “Rory was on fire all game. He was just a big ball of energy and he really came through for us in the third period.”
The Chiefs visit the Vancouver Northwest Giants this weekend in the best-of-three Pacific region championship, with the winner advancing to the Telus Cup national tournament at Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.
“We’re going to Vancouver for spring break for Pacific regionals, so that’ll be a nice spring break,” said Hermus, a prospect of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
“It’s definitely going to be a big jump in the fall, trying to make that (Moose Jaw) team. But that’s the ultimate goal. This definitely helps, getting some confidence up and playing on a winning team.
“I want to go to Moose Jaw and give it the best effort I possibly can to crack that squad. If that doesn’t work out, I want to finish up my school in Red Deer and come back (to the Chiefs).
“This is a great program and I’ve enjoyed my time here, so I might want to come back here and play another year.”