Ponoka Storm teams returned with medals after a highly competitive provincials weekend.
The U17 girls had a solid showing coming home from host Camrose with silver medals. Coach Greg Bendera explained in an email that the girls ended up losing to Camrose 1-0 in the final.
“After a scoreless first half, Camrose scored in the 60th minute. Ponoka worked hard but could not get a goal,” said Bendera.
Camrose’s defense ended up being what held Ponoka at bay. It was a close one too, as a strong goal attempt by Leah Jensen almost made its mark.
“Jensen hit the crossbar with about eight minutes left in the match,” he explained.
Getting to the finals ended up being determined not by a game, but by a penalty shootout.
“Ponoka and Sherwood Park were tied for first after Sherwood Park’s 2-0 win vs Bonnyville. Both were tied on points, goal differential, and goals for, which meant placing was to be determined on penalty kicks on Sunday morning,” said Bendera.
There couldn’t have been a more balanced group; after five attempts on goal each, the teams were tied 4-4 (goals by Brook Smith, Emma Bendera, Shaelyn Goodwin and Ericka Geneblazo).
The winner would be determined by sudden death.
“Goalkeeper Rheona Morrow then stole the show, saving four of the next five shooters. Hailey Pettersen scored on the seventh shot, and Shanelle Remanda the 10th. Rheona made the last save, securing a spot in the gold medal game,” said Bendera.
For the rest of the tournament game one was a tie with Sherwood Park with both teams playing strong. Game 2 was a 2-0 win against Bonnyville with Ponoka holding the other team to one attempt on goal.
The boys had a strong showing at the provincials tournament in Carstairs.
The team ended up earning bronze in a 2-1 win against Ardrossan.
In an email, coach Brad Normandeau explained how tough that bronze medal game was, which ended up going to a shootout.
Ardrossan was able to take advantage of a penalty kick in the first 15 minutes to take the lead, however, Brayden Lubach, on a free kick before halftime tied it up.
A back and forth of goals between both teams brought Ardrossan in the lead 3-2 with five minutes left. “But Steven Bock scored again to tie it with five minutes remaining in the match,” said Normandeau.
The pressure was intense but Ponoka has been through several shootouts this season, which may have given them the edge over Ardrossan.
“Ardrossan missed the net with both of their first two kicks, while Steven Bock and Nathan Bendera scored for Ponoka.”
Ponoka’s goalie made a diving save on Ardrossan’s third attempt and Brayden Lubach took Ponoka’s third penalty and buried it, giving the team the Bronze medal win.
As for the rest of the tournament, the boys won their first game against host team Carstairs 6-1. Blake Miller-Zimmer posted a hat trick. Other goals were by Steven Bock, Brayden Lubach and Ryder Lay.
Game two was a relatively strong 3-1 win. Ponoka played Sherwood Park and was initially behind 1-0. However, the Storm was able to earn three unanswered goals, said Normandeau. Lubach scored two and Bendera scored the other.
Game three ended up being the biggest challenge with Ponoka losing to Whitecourt, the eventual provincials winner, by 7-4.
“At the half, Ponoka was down 4-1,” said Normandeau. “They pushed back in the second half to make it 4-3, but ran out of gas and lost 7-4.”