They made a valiant effort but the competition was just too tough for the Lacoka Warriors who hosted the Bantam B provincials in Lacombe over the second half of last week.
Competition was fierce with the 10 best teams in the province vying for bragging rights and the coveted provincial banner during provincials, which started Thursday, March 12 and ended Sunday.
The Warriors started strong with their first game Friday morning defeating Edmonton 7-1. On an interesting side note, the Edmonton goalie proved skilled in her position over the weekend. She had over 200 shots against her net and she let in only 10, seven of which were Lacoka’s.
Their second game later in the day proved a challenge as they faced off against Stettler Storm, who were the eventual provincial champions. Lacoka lost the game 5-2. They played the Lloydminster Blazers on Saturday losing a close game 3-2, which put them out of the running to make it to the semi-finals.
The Warriors’ last game of the weekend was against the Spruce Grove Rebels, which they finished on a high note winning 9-1. Coach Mark Sieben said they knew they were up against some tough teams; Lloydminster and Stettler have defeated the Warriors before.
In an effort to allow players gain more experience, Warriors coaches made the decision to bring up players from the Peewee team partly to fill their roster, but primarily to give the younger players a chance to play a high level of hockey.
“Nine of our 14 girls have never had the experience of being at provincials before,” said Sieben.
He says the Lacoka program is relatively young and coaches felt the experience would help the younger players, who have played with the Bantam team before during the regular season, a better understanding of the competition. “We put one in each game just to give them a feel.”
With the season over, Sieben says four players will move to Midgets next year, which bodes well for the team as long as they can garner interest from the Peewee aged kids.
“We did have one brand new player this year that never played hockey,” said Sieben.
Organizers pleased with weekend events
Tournament chairperson Sharon Klinger said since the Lacoka program is only in its fourth year, planners wanted to get all the Lacoka teams involved in the weekend.
She says the biggest goal was to create strong memories for the players and getting the other teams involved was an important aspect of the weekend. The Midget girls’ team also came to help out.
Klinger credits co-organizer Tracey Grant and team manager Lara Fodor for creating a well-organized weekend and for garnering strong corporate support and sponsorship. “You can’t say enough for the volunteers and the sponsors,” said Klinger.
Support came from businesses and parents in Lacombe and Ponoka and from both municipalities, she added.
“Our program’s a success and they (players) are having fun,” said Klinger of the entire Lacoka program. The program is still developing and Klinger feels they are constantly growing.
“For this season, three out of four teams are going to provincials,” she stated proudly.
Lacoka Atom girls head to Camrose this weekend for female Atom provincials. “We wanted them to have this experience with our girls,” added Klinger.
Midget girls head to Vermillion for the Midget B provincials.