By CHARLES TWEED
They weren’t allowed to drink beer and smoke cigars on the ice when it was all over and done with but the Wetaskiwin Midget female hockey team are champions after winning provincials in Barrhead.
Wetaskiwin absolutely steamrolled the competition in the round robin. A 6-1 win over Edmonton, a 13-1 win over Barrhead, a 4-3 win over Olds and a 6-2 win over Fort McMurray put them in first place in their pool and set up a date against Wainwright in the semifinal.
Their confidence continuing to grow, the Wetaskiwin Co-op Country Junction — the team name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue — dispensed of Wainwright 6-2 to advance to Sunday’s final.
The Olds Renegades would be their opponent in the final. The game was a rematch of round robin play that saw Wetaskiwin narrowly defeat the Renegades 4-3.
It was an all-Ponoka connection that scored first in the final against Olds. Danesha Doman scored the goal, assisted by Brooke Van Wolde and Carly French. The goal would be the only one Wetaskiwin got and needed as they hung on to defeat Olds and capture the provincial banner by score of 1-0.
The game was made doubly exciting when with four minutes remaining Olds pulled their goalie for a six on four advantage.
“The whole game was fast-paced, exciting and definitely a nail-biter, with terrific goaltending,” said manager Joan Van Wolde.
“We had superb penalty killing all game, especially on the six on four and managed to hold Olds off.”
Jennifer Huo made 25 stops to preserve the shutout.
The win is sweet for Wetaskiwin, who finished the regular season in top spot in their league but lost in the final against Red Deer.
“There was loud cheering and banging of noisemakers all game. Except for the last 30 seconds, you could feel the anticipation and suspense in the air as both team’s spectators waited with baited breath,” said Van Wolde.
“Wetaskiwin triumphed and players and fans erupted with excitement. The players piled on their goalie and the fans stood up and cheered and applauded loudly, very proud of how hard the team played all season.”
There are five Ponoka girls who play on the team: Dorman, Van Wolde, French, Alyssa Goodwin, and Tara Smith, while three girls from Hobbema: Kristie Ward, Kristen Swampy, and Jacky Bruno go to school in Ponoka and play on the team.
“The team is a true success story — the girls from different communities came together, accepting and respecting each other — truly working as a strong team,” said Van Wolde.