It was an unforgettable afternoon of hockey with Stettler community filling up the blue rink arena seats to the seams, making noise to cheer their home team Stettler Legion Storm as they overtook Barrhead Steelers in the finals and beat them 6-3 to win the Midget A Provincial Championship.
By Sunday morning Stettler had won three of their four games in round-robin and were one of the four teams in the semi-finals.
Stettler played Calgary Glenlake Hawks and beat them 4-1 going into finals, while the Barrhead Steelers beat the Sherwood Park Knights 6-2 in the semi-finals to face Stettler in the final round. It was the second time the two teams had come face-to-face, with Barrhead winning 3-2 in the earlier encounter.
The first period looked evenly matched for a while till Matthew Sylvester scored for Stettler, assisted by Quade Cassidy and Ethan Rost.
That made the Steelers stir up a storm, although Stettler fought just as hard to maintain the lead going into the second period 1-0.
But within the first few minutes of the second period Stettler played a possessed game and took away the suave confidence of the Steelers, scoring four straight goals in quick succession, and thereby firmly putting Stettler in a 5-0 lead position.
The onslaught was led by Sylvester, who scored the second goal unassisted, which was also his second goal of the game.
Quade Cassidy scored the third, assisted by Sylvester and Drew Cassidy, while Sylvester scored his third goal, once again unassisted taking Stettler to a lead of 4-0.
But before Barrhead Steelers could get their act together Brendan Bardwell scored Stettler’s fifth goal, assisted by Paul Du Toit.
And although Steelers were able to score a goal towards the end of the second period, the Stettler Legion Storm had swept them away.
At the end of the second period, Mark Bengert, assisted by Kameron Bainbridge and Du Toit had sealed Stettler’s lead by scoring the sixth goal for Stettler.
The teams that played in the third period were vastly different from those that played in the second, with Stettler leading 6-1 ready to score more goals, while the Steelers were trying their best to hide the disappointment.
By the end of the third period although Barrhead Steelers scored another two goals, Stettler was clearly superior and were crowned the provincial champions, beating their opponents 6-3.
“Well it was quite the weekend, with the emotional highs and lows of a tournament that we eventually came out on top is still sinking in,” said Neil McCallum, one of the assistant coaches. “We are so proud of of our group of players, parents, volunteers, coaches and fans for such a successful weekend.”
McCallum said that the Stettler Legion Midget Storm would like to thank the amount of fan support they had received over the weekend.
“We estimated approximately 1,000 fans for our final game against Barrhead,” added McCallum. “That huge amount of support was good for at least 2-3 goals and these young men will never forget the roar of support as they came out from the tunnel from the dressing room to start the game, so thank you to our fans.”
According to McCallum, Barrhead was a worthy opponent.
“They had beaten us in the round robin game with a late goal and had won in triple ot in our tournament,” explained McCallum. “We had defeated them once as well with a late short handed goal in the same tournament and we knew it would be a very close final.”
As a coaching staff it was a pleasure to coach this group, said McCallum.
“Head coach Matt Cassidy and assistant coaches Rory Rost, Les Ternes and myself are so proud of these young men and what they represent and how they present themselves,” said McCallum. “This is what hockey can be at its best.”