The Stettler Recreation Centre was buzzing this weekend as the annual atom tournament brought hockey teams from around Alberta to compete on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10-11.
All three Stettler atom teams performed well, but did not manage to bring home a tier title.
The Stettler Atom Elks Storm had a flawless round robin, defeating St. Albert on Saturday morning, 7-5, and Sherwood Park 9-0 later that day.
The team faced off against Lacombe for the championship game, where they suffered their first and only defeat of the tournament, losing in a close, well-played 5-3.
“Our team played very well,” Jay Pedersen, assistant coach, said. “They improved throughout the weekend, and our goalies played really well.”
The team picked MVPs for each game, with Rhys Pedersen, Carver Shingoose and Chase Anderson taking those honours.
The Atom B DYMY Oilfield Services Storm team didn’t have a winning weekend, winning only one game of three. But for Coach Lee Dechaine, the real victory was seeing the experience the kids gained.
“Atom is the first time that the kids really learn to play as a team and learn strategy,” he said. “Before then, it’s all about individual skill development.”
The team is mostly first-year atom players, with only two second-year players on the team.
They first played against Forestberg, who won “quite handily” over the home team, Dechaine said. The second game, against Redcliff, saw the Storm lose 6-3.
That knocked Stettler out of the championship game, but pitted them against Redcliff the next day, Sunday Dec. 11, in the consolation finals.
“We had one kid that didn’t play the first game because he was sick, and some others recovering from the flu,” Dechaine said. “A good night’s rest made all the difference.”
Stettler went on to beat Redcliff 9-1 in the consolation finals.
The Atom C Kal Tire Storm suffered the same fate as their A division fellows, playing strong during the round robin only to lose in the championship game.
The first game on Saturday pitted the Atom Cs against West Country, which was handily won, according to Dave Deaver, coach.
The next game put the Stettler team up against neighbouring Castor, which was the team to beat. Unfortunately, Stettler couldn’t; Castor handed them a crushing 10-0 loss.
The championship game on Sunday ended up being a rematch between Stettler and Castor, which resulted in another 10-0 loss for Stettler, though the two games were very different according to Deaver.
“The kids played excellent and battled hard,” Deaver said of his players.