Stettler rallies to win bantam A tourney

The Stettler Storm overcame adversity to win their bantam A hockey tournament Sunday at Stettler Recreation Centre.

Stettler Storm defenceman Cole Pedersen towers above a Cochrane player during Stettler’s 7-5 win Sunday in the championship game of a bantam A hockey tournament last weekend at Stettler Recreation Centre.

Stettler Storm defenceman Cole Pedersen towers above a Cochrane player during Stettler’s 7-5 win Sunday in the championship game of a bantam A hockey tournament last weekend at Stettler Recreation Centre.

The Stettler Storm overcame adversity to win their bantam A hockey tournament Sunday at Stettler Recreation Centre.

Missing four regulars because of injuries, the Storm fell behind 4-3 late in the second period of the championship game, but rallied to win 7-5 over the Cochrane Rockies.

Stettler captain Brett Coleman scored on a shot from the point just 14 seconds into the third period and assistant captain Tye Mulgrove put the Storm ahead 5-4 a minute later. Mulgrove’s power-play marker with 10:24 left, on a quick, hard shot upstairs, proved to be the winner.

Brenden Tucker added an empty-net goal with 25 seconds remaining before Cochrane closed the scoring with just 11 seconds left.

Although the Rockies stormed the Stettler net late in the second period and cashed in with two power-play goals — one of them on a two-man advantage — they didn’t recover after Coleman and company set the tone in the opening seconds of the third.

“We’ve got a pretty resilient bunch,” Storm coach

Ryan Robbins said Sunday. “We were a little short-staffed today, but we got ’er done.

“We lost to these guys (the Rockies) last night. We came back today and put our work boots on and got the W.”

Mulgrove and Ryan Mielke each collected two goals and two assists, and Talon Conner contributed one of each.

Stettler goaltender Davin Nattestad made 24 saves in beating Cochrane, which had defeated Stettler 3-1 on Saturday night in the final round-robin game.

Storm defenceman Rylee Jacobson got hurt Saturday and was a questionable starter for Sunday’s game, but he showed up ready to play and logged key minutes on the back end.

“Yeah, he was pretty banged up,” Robbins said of Jacobson. “He had to go to the doctor (Saturday) night, too. He impressed us today. He put his heart on his shoulder and went at ’er.”

The injured Storm players — Dawson Beck, Euan Hanton, James Switenky and Jackson Zimmermann — sported their jerseys in the stands Sunday.

Stettler, which went 3-1 overall in the annual tournament, relied on its leaders, including captain Coleman and assistants Mulgrove and Paul du Toit (the other assistant, Hanton, was sidelined with an injury).

“They’re our captains and assistants for a reason, so we tend to lean on them a little more than we have to, but it’s nice to have them as stable units from past years,”

Robbins said of his captaincy corps.

Coleman, Mulgrove, du Toit and Hanton, along with Zimmermann and Cole Pedersen, are carryovers from last season’s provincial bantam A championship team from Stettler.

In their other tournament games, the Storm posted 6-1 victories over Innisfail and Olds. Cochrane opened with a 6-4 loss to Olds, but bounced Innisfail 7-3.

Stettler is a juggernaut in the North Central Minor Hockey Association, sporting a 12-1-3 league record this season.

“We’ve got a couple of little guys, and then we’ve got some pretty good size,” Robbins said. “So we’ve got a real good mixture of guys, and our goaltender is usually always pretty strong. He helps us out.”

The Storm are back on the ice tonight when they head to Camrose for Game 1 of a two-game, total-goal series that opens the provincial playdowns. Game 2 is next Tuesday in Stettler.

Stettler would need to survive two elimination series to advance to the provincials, which are scheduled for Grande Prairie in mid-March.

editor@stettlerindependent.com