There remain only a few local hockey clubs left vying for a spot in their respective provincial championship race.
Earlier this month, the Ponoka Minor Hockey Calnash Trucking atom team was dispatched in the opening round of the Atom C Zone 4 playdowns, as were the Bantam Moose who lost to Blackfalds in Bantam C first round play.
Meanwhile last week, both Peewee teams saw their provincial aspirations grind to a halt in the first round.
The Elks were knocked out of Peewee B action by Maskwacis after losing at home on Monday, Jan. 25 by a 5-3 score after a 3-3 tie earlier in the month.
That was followed this weekend in Peewee C play where the Quality Paint and Collision squad lost out to Lacombe following a 10-6 loss at home on Thursday, Jan. 27 and a 9-2 loss in Clive on Friday, Jan. 29.
Evan Kraft, Nevin Thompson and Luke Simanton, who was called up from the McDonald Atoms, each scored twice in the opening game. The goal scorers from Friday’s game were not available.
Assistant coach Harley Shoemaker said the series was going to be an uphill battle from the start.
“We are a tier five team going up against a team from tier three, so it was going to be difficult,” he said.
“The boys did really well considering and played great Thursday, and in spite of the 9-2 score (Friday) our goaltending was excellent stopping 58 shots.”
That leaves only the Fountain Tire Midget, McDonalds Atom and all three Lacoka female teams still in contention for a provincial title.
The McDonald atoms are into the Atom C second round and will open up their two-game, total goal zone semi-final series in Millet tonight (Wednesday, Feb. 3). No date has been announced for the return match in Ponoka.
Meanwhile, the Midgets advanced to the Midget C zone semi-final versus Thorsby after beating Lacombe earlier in January by scores of 4-2 and 8-4. No dates have been set for the series, which needs to be decided by Feb. 14, with the winner to face Eckville for the provincial berth.
In female play, the Lacoka Peewee girls will play Warburg for the right to head to provincials after they got by Red Deer earlier last month, while the Bantam girls defeated Rocky Mountain House and will play the winner of Leduc and Warburg for the spot at provincials.
As for the Midget girls, they lost last week 3-2 in Leduc and were slated to play the second game of the series last night (Tuesday, Feb. 2) in Ponoka with the winner to face Rocky Mountain House in the zone final. The result was unavailable at press time.
Regular season wrapping up
With only three weeks left in the North Central Minor Hockey league regular season, several teams were busy over the weekend catching up on games after provincial play caused some interuptions.
The Fountain Tire Midgets played host to Rocky Mountain House on Friday, Jan. 29 and fell 8-5. They turned things around on Sunday, Jan. 31 where they posted an 8-6 win at home over Maskwacis.
The only Bantam Moose game of the weekend came Saturday, Jan. 30 in Coronation, where they were blanked 9-0, while the Peewee Elks played four games in as many days – falling 7-4 in Eckville on Thursday, Jan. 27, losing 10-4 at home Friday, Jan. 29 to Blackfalds, then losing 5-2 on the road Saturday, Jan. 30 in Sedgewick to Battle River and were in Sundre on Sunday, Jan. 31 where they came away with a 3-3 tie.
The Quality Paint and Collision Peewee squad also ended up playing three games in as many nights, following up on their two provincial playdown games last week with a regular season home contest Saturday, Jan. 30 versus 3’Cs, which they won 4-1.
The McDonalds atom squad were home to Daysland on Saturday, Jan. 30, and earned a 6-4 victory, while the Calnash Trucking atom team took on Battle River at home Saturday, where they won 11-3, before heading to Stettler on Sunday to earn their seventh straight league win by a count of 10-3.
Rounding out the weekend, the Lacoka Bantam girls took on Edson on Sunday and ran their league-leading record to 14 wins, a loss and two ties with a 6-4 victory, while the Lacoka Peewee girls faced Stettler in Ponoka Sunday and fell 2-1.