From March 20 to 22 the Ponoka Arena was home to the provincial ‘Midget A’ hockey tournament and everyday of competition the complex was packed with parents, friends and fans in support of the eight participating teams filled with the best hockey players of the division in the province.
Those teams battling for the provincial title included Ponoka, Thunderstars, Olds, Taber, Wetaskiwin, Morinville, Vermillion and High Prarie.
On Friday, Ponoka played against Morinville at 10:30 a.m. and won seven to three before taking on Vermillion at 9 p.m. the same night and playing hard but ultimately losing 10 to four. This game immediately followed the opening ceremonies, which had all teams lined up on the ice for an introduction, the singing of our national anthem, and an official puck drop by Brandy Buss among an array of official welcomes. On Saturday, Ponoka took on Thunderstars and emerged victorious with a score of six to three taking them to the one of two semi-final games the next day. On Sunday at 11:45 a.m. Ponoka gave it their all but it was Wetaskiwin who would head to the finals against Vermillion at 5 p.m. later that evening. Vermillion beat Wetaskiwin six to three and is the 2009 ‘Midget A’ provincial champions. Ponoka finished fourth in the province and coach, Mark Sieben, was pleased with the outcome.
“In our first and third game we did very well but in our second and fourth games we didn’t capitalize on all of the opportunities. We were inconsistent at times but all in all we put forth a great effort, the kids worked hard and we’re proud where we finished. Thanks to the kids and their parents for their dedication this year and I hope they all enjoyed the season. Good luck to each and everyone of them in the future,” said Sieben.
Tournament chairperson, Cheryl Sieben agreed.
“It was great hockey from start to finish. Every team at the tournament was more than able to bring home the gold medal,” she said. “We need to thank our two major sponsors as well as the arena, the rink attendants, our local restaurants, shops, hotels, parents, coaches, players, young players, teams, team runners, officiators, announcers, teachers, volunteers, our photographer, the people of Ponoka and of course, the host committee,” she said.
The host site selection process wasn’t and easy one. All host applicants had to identify how they would meet a select list of criteria formulated by Hockey Alberta and their various councils. The Provincials’ host selection committee evaluated the criteria, such as volunteer base, marketing plans, financial goals, etc. and then made their final decisions ultimately giving Ponoka the honour to host the prestigious tournament – one players, coaches, volunteers and members of the community certainly won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
“We put in a lot of hours but we had a lot of fun. To hear all of the ‘thank you’s’ and ‘good job’s’ made it all worthwhile. The town and community succeeded – it was an overwhelming success,” she said.