It’s been a season Central Alberta’s Josh Zinger of Red Deer and Noah Hackett from Ponoka won’t soon forget.
The duo, who play for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), first took home the AJHL championship last month, but are now Centennial Cup national Junior A champions helping the city claim back-to-back national titles.
To get to the Centennial Cup in Estevan the Bandits defeated the Spruce Grove Saints in five games. Brooks then went on to dominate in the Centennial Cup finishing the tournament undefeated, beating the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League 4-1 in the championship game on Sunday.
Zinger said winning the Centennial Cup is an experience that is hard to put into words.
“There’s not really any better feeling. It’s probably honestly the greatest moment of my life so far. It’s tough to put it into words but it feels amazing,” Zinger told the Advocate.
The defenceman contributed eight points, two goals and six assists in six games during the tournament to help the Bandits win the national junior A title. Zinger added the long road to winning the national championship is not an easy accomplishment having to play against some of the best teams in junior hockey.
“It’s tough. People think it’s just injuries and stuff like that and you get banged up… but a lot of it’s mental as well just playing that far into the season when a lot of people are done playing hockey and it just starts to get warm outside you start thinking about summer while you’re still playing hockey. And it’s really tough but in the end every bit of it is worth it,” Zinger said.
Zinger was traded to the Brooks Bandits this season and said he learned from those who won the title in 2019. He said winning and excellence is expected every single night when you’re a member of the team.
“My D-partner Ethan Lund was one of the guys on that team and because It’s my first year playing defence he really showed me the ropes and he helped me so much I can’t thank that guy enough,” Zinger said.
During the AJHL playoffs, the home games in Brooks he said were something he hasn’t experienced before.
The crowd was so loud it was hard to hear himself think but was an incredible advantage.
He also had his family at all of his playoff games in Brooks and later in Estevan, which meant a lot to him.
Hackett, a forward, contributed five points for three goals and two assists in the tournament.