There remain two local hockey clubs in the hunt for a provincial championship.
The Ponoka Atom McDonalds advanced to the zone final with a 10-5 victory over Millet on Monday, Feb. 8 to capture the two game-total goal series. Ponoka won the first game the week before by a count of 5-2.
Head coach Chris Palechek said the game was close until the third, when Ponoka exploded with four goals to put the game – and the series – in the bag.
“They were a good team and came at us hard, but we were able to find that something extra in the third period,” he stated.
The Atoms will now play Thorsby for the right to represent Zone 4 at the Atom C provincial championship in Grimshaw from March 17-20. As of press time, the dates for the two game-total goal series had not been set, but the series must be completed by Feb. 28.
Meanwhile, the other team in the hunt has already secured a spot in their provincial championship, but are looking to carry the Zone 4 banner into the event.
The Peewee Lacoka girls’ team took on Warburg on Saturday, Feb. 13 in Ponoka in the opening game of their two game-total goal zone final series, losing a tight game 4-3.
Head coach Ron Klinger said all of the games against Warburg this season have been hard fought, close contests, but that his girls just didn’t seem to have it in this one.
He anticipates a much better showing when they play the return match on Friday, Feb. 19 in Warburg.
However, a loss won’t mean the end of the season for either squad as the loser of the series has been assured of a wildcard berth at the provincial championship Mar. 10-13 in Edmonton, as there was no host team available to take part.
And it was an extremely disappointing way to end their run at a title as Ponoka Fountain Tire Midgets fell in overtime in Thorsby on Wednesday Feb. 10, losing the second game of the series 7-2 after taking the opening game at home earlier 5-1.
“Our goalie – Justin Hyink – stood on his head on Tuesday and the boys played good and got some goals for us,” said coach Peter Hall.
“However, we started the next game on our heels a bit, they got a couple of ugly goals, crashed the net, worked hard and beat us in overtime on an unbelievable screen shot. We had our chances after they tied the series up midway through the game, but weren’t able to get anything into the net.”
With just one more week of play in the North Central Minor Hockey League regular season, things are getting more intense and the battle to improve teams’ positions continues.
The Fountain Tire Midgets nearly helped their cause, but gave up a two-goal lead late at home to the 3C’s Comets and needed to hang on for a 7-7 draw Saturday, Feb. 13. The result of Sunday’s game in Rocky Mountain House was unavailable at press time.
It was an up and down weekend at home for the Bantam Moose, beating up on Blackfalds 8-3 on Friday night, Feb. 12 before Lacombe blanked them 13-0 Saturday afternoon.
Peewee Elks fell 5-3 to Daysland in their only game of the weekend Saturday at home, while the Peewee Quality Paint & Collision squad used home ice to their advantage for a 3-1 win over Blackfalds Saturday, Feb.14. The result of their game Sunday at home with Lacombe was unavailable at press time.
For the Atom McDonalds, a busy week continued with a 5-2 loss at home to Blackfalds Friday night and an 8-2 loss Saturday to Battle River in Sedgewick. Sunday’s result versus Daysland was unavailable at press time.
Lastly, the Atom Calnash Trucking team were on the road Saturday in Stettler and managed a 7-3 victory.
The lone female team in action this last week saw the Midget Lacoka club double up Rocky Mountain House 4-2 on Thursday, Feb. 11.