Winter Games thrilled Ponoka hockey players

Two Ponoka Peewee A Ponoka boys survived their first taste of the Alberta Winter Games

Jared Rice competes at the recent Alberta Winter Games.

Jared Rice competes at the recent Alberta Winter Games.

Two Ponoka Peewee A Ponoka boys survived their first taste of the Alberta Winter Games and the pleasures that went along with the experience.

Noah Hackett and Jared Rice both made the Zone 4 team and played five games in all, coming out in sixth place. “I’d say we were a good team but the teams we played against were really good, too,” said Hackett.

“It was really fun. There’s a lot of good players in our zone and you get to play on the same line as them,” he added.

During the second game, all of which were played in Banff, Rice pulled a muscle in his quad. He finished the game but was made to sit out the third period of the third game while physiotherapists attended to him.

“It just started hurting about half way through . . . It was hard, I couldn’t skate very fast,” said Rice.

Despite the injury Rice says he really enjoyed playing with the Zone 4 team. He says the biggest difference between playing for Ponoka and playing at the winter games was the pace of the games. “We had less time to move the puck, they were just on you. Here you have more time.”

“It’s not like winter hockey where you get to score all the time,” added Hackett. He says, because the competition was so stiff a player may get the opportunity to try and score one or to times per game. In the five games played he scored three times.

The boys also got to experience the star treatment usually associated with professional hockey players. When the team walked into their dressing room each one had a name tag, their equipment was hung out and waiting for them and there was a tub of Gatorade sitting in the middle of the room.

“It was awesome,” said Rice.

The boys were also exposed to another interesting feature of hockey in a competition as big as the winter games: “Sleeping in one room with a bunch of hockey players was really weird,” said Hackett, who added each of the eight teams was separated by curtains.

During the games the boys also received some messages and inspiring words of encouragement from Olympians in Sochi on the jumbo screen.