Ponoka hockey players picked for European tour

Two of Ponoka’s top peewee hockey players are lacing up their skates and heading off to central Europe this spring

Jared Rice works to interfere with an opposing player. Soon he’ll be defending against players in Europe

Two of Ponoka’s top peewee hockey players are lacing up their skates and heading off to central Europe this spring to take part in an international hockey trip.

Jared Rice, 11, and Noah Hackett, 10, play for the Ponoka Stampeders peewee A team and tried out for the Canadian team along with approximately 1,500 other boys born in 2001. They were scouted by coach and trip director Peter Lameir, who’s been doing this for more than 20 years.

“They’re nice boys, they’re good boys,” said Lameir.

The trip will kick off in late March next year and the boys will play anywhere from 12 to 19 games, depending on how they do, in a total of 16 days.

“They’re almost cramming a whole season into two weeks,” said Cam Rice, Jared’s father.

During their tryouts Rice was nervous but Hackett had a feeling he would make the team. “I felt like a strong player, I wasn’t that nervous.”

The boys where on the ice for seven hours with a one-hour break, said their fathers.

“I think it’s going to be fun playing on bigger rinks than we play in Alberta,” said Hackett. “I won’t be used to it.”

“I’m excited to play in different countries,” added Rice, who isn’t nervous about playing the international teams, he’s more nervous about the flight over.

Canada’s team consists of 17 skaters and two goalies. Mr. Rice says there are five or six from Alberta and the rest are from out of province.

Ken Hackett said his son’s been waiting for the tryouts and this opportunity for more than a year. He also thinks the trip will be a good bonding opportunity with his son.

“We’re just there to make sure they’re fed, watered and sleep,” said Mr. Rice with a laugh.

“Peter has a lot of time invested in these boys, the least they can do is perform for him,” said Mr. Rice. “He expects the most out these boys.”

Despite the gruelling timeline, Mr. Rice believes the trip will help the boys’ game and future. “I think it’s a heck of a good opportunity for these boys to play with top boys around the county. It looks good on a college resume.”

The boys will play their first game in Germany the day they arrive in the county. “I think it’s a pretty neat accomplishment for those two boys to be asked to represent their county, basically,” Mr. Rice said.

Not only with the boys be playing hockey but they’ll also tour Europe, including visiting a concentration camp. “It’s going to be a real cultural experience for them too,” added Mr. Rice.

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