Stettler Minor Hockey Association wrapped up their 2014-2015 season with a lot of successes and looking forward, the president of the association is hopeful that still more kids could and will sign up next season.
In the last two weeks of the provincials and league play, Atom girls could make it to the provincial semi-finals in Camrose after losing to Calgary Jets 5-4 in their first game but comfortably beating Olds Grizzlies 11-1 and Okotoks Oilers 3-0. They couldn’t, however secure a place in the finals when they lost to Lloydminster Blazers 4-2.
Atom Elks boys, for their part competed in Edson for their provincial title and tied in their first game 5-5 with Rivière Qui Barre, defeated Peace River Mustangs 6-2 in the second, but lost to Foothill Flyers 8-1 in the third,
Female Midget OK Tire Storm travelled to Vermillion to claim their spot in the final and they did. After overcoming St. Albert Rush 5-4, Vermilion Agland Tigers 9-2, Lethbridge Hurricane 8-2 and Edmonton Heat 3-1 without any problems, they took on Lakeland Jaguars in the semi-final, which turned out to be another 3-1 victory for Stettler girls.
However, the team they beat first in their round robin came out with a vengeance in the final and left only the silver medal to Stettler girls.
Bantam girls narrowly missed the opportunity to achieve a double header when they lost the league championship title to Lacoka girls in the last 30 seconds of the third overtime in the final game, losing to the team they had defeated in the provincial finals.
Stettler Minor Hockey Association President Jason Hegberg was quite satisfied as he assessed the overall success of Stettler teams over the season.
“We had nine teams attempt to go to provincials and we had six teams go to provincials, with two gold medals, one silver and a couple of semi-finalists,” he said.
But it is not only the banners that are raised which matter in minor hockey, it is more how much the players individually and as teams improve their skills and Hegberg said all of the coaches of the Stettler teams were happy with the progress achieved.
Hegberg says the novice and mite programs are where the whole development starts and he believes focusing on players at those levels can provide the platform for future build-up of good hockey teams.
“We are working hard at those young levels but it goes to recruitment as well, we are trying to attract more kids and we are trying to make our female program consistently grow,” he said.
Hegberg appealed to interested community members to become more engaged with the association and ask how they can become coaches and mentors even if they don’t know the game very well.
As for the next season, the goal according to the SMHA president is just to be able to recruit more young players, not only for them to be hockey players, but to gain lifelong skills.