The host Stettler Storm are going into the bantam A hockey provincials through the front door.
Already guaranteed the host berth in the March 14-17 provincial championship, the Storm didn’t rest on their laurels last weekend as they won the Zone 7 title.
Stettler blanked Sherwood Park 5-0 on Saturday to take their two-game, total-goal series 5-4.
“It was nice to see the boys rewarded with something for all their hard work,” Stettler coach Rory Rost said after the Storm captured the Zone 7 banner.
“We were shut out for the first four periods of the series, but stayed on our game plan. We assured the boys that if they were able to get the first goal, they may come in bunches, and when we finally broke the seal, we ended up scoring five goals in the second period.”
The Storm outshot Sherwood Park 50-20 in the Game 2 victory and 34-14 in the Game 1 loss.
Both finalists earned a berth in the 10-team provincial tournament.
On Sunday, the pennant-winning Storm wrapped up their regular season with a 9-3 victory over Red Deer Frontier in North Central Minor Hockey Association action at Red Deer.
The Storm fashioned a 16-2-2 record to finish atop the Tier 1 league.
In the provincial-qualifying game at Sherwood Park, Ben Bauman posted the shutout and Stettler captain Matt Sylvester scored three goals and assisted on another.
Ethan Rost and Jordan Lee each scored a goal and Quade Cassidy picked up three assists.
In the regular-season finale at Red Deer, Sylvester collected five points, including three goals. Brendon Bardwell added two goals and an assist, while Cassidy had a goal and three helpers.
Brendan Pederson, Jeff Ternes and Jackson Zimmermann scored the other Stettler goals.
Bauman made 23 saves as Stettler fired 52 shots at Nolan MacGregor.
FIELD SET: The stage has been set for the provincial championship tournament in mid-March at the Stettler Recreation Centre.
Stettler is in Pool A with Lloydminster, Whitecourt, Beaumont and Edmonton.
Pool B is made up of Sherwood Park, Grande Prairie, Okotoks, Olds and Calgary.
In preliminary play, Stettler faces Edmonton at 6:45 p.m. on March 14, Beaumont at 11:45 a.m. and Lloydminster at 8 p.m. on March 15, and Whitecourt at 4:45 p.m. on March 16.
The playoffs are scheduled for March 17, with the semifinals at 9 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., and the final at 3 p.m.