The rink may have been small, but the place was filled with fun, laughter and some serious hockey.
Ponoka Minor Hockey hosted its annual novice tournament over the weekend, with both local squads coming out on top.
The Strand Media Storm captured the tournament title, while Wedins Warriors wound up taking the B-event win.
For the Storm, it was a cruise into the final with wins over Red Deer (11-0) and Rimbey (11-3). However, it took a very late third period goal for the Storm to secure the 5-4 victory over Lacombe in the championship match.
“The final was close, right down to the final second,” said Storm head coach Scott Dubitz, noting there’s more to it for them than winning.
“Tournaments like this provide our players an opportunity to bond and become a true team. You could really feel that in the dressing room prior to the final game.”
Dubitz added that the kids having fun is and has always been the focus for the coaches this season. Although, there are ways to help the kids improve their skills in a fun way as well.
“We have been working hard on defensive positioning and team work. I am very proud of our team and how they demonstrated that this weekend,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Warriors weren’t able to weather the onslaught in their opening game, losing 13-3 to Lacombe, but rebounded with a 12-2 victory on St. Albert followed by a 13-1 win over Red Deer to take the consolation side.
Warriors head coach Mark Richter was pleased with the improvements he saw in his club.
“From our view, the tournament went on without a hitch. The talent level was fairly equal, all of our kids had fun and because of all of these games in one weekend, our team improved,” he stated.
“Our kids are always having fun, win or lose. In our first game, we were losing, but rather than getting down, our players were playing pranks on their coaches on the bench.”
Richter added that the coaching staff has placed a focus this season on positional play in addition to being able to play as a team. In other words, players looking to make plays and pass to the open player as opposed to just skating with the puck.
Both Richter and Dubitz had words of praise and thanks to the generous donations made to the tournament by the numerous local businesses, which helped make the event such as success. The pair also wanted to recognize the many parent volunteers, plus the two tournament coordinators — Treena Williams and Robyn Dubitz — for all the work that was put in.
***Correction: This story has been updated to change the headlines and to properly identify the two teams and coaches. The Ponoka News apologises for any inconvenience this caused.