The Atom C provincials in Spirit River proved a challenging competition for Ponoka’s atom McDonalds.
Competition started March 15 for Ponoka which took on Wabasca. There was a lot of action in this game, explained coach Gary MacLaren.
“Our goalie got hurt in that game and we had to quickly replace him with a player,” he said of the second period injury.
It was also a high scoring game. Ponoka lost 13-9 to Wabasca with action getting strong in the second and third periods.
With 11 players on the team, none of them had been to provincials before. They were also proud to carry the Zone 4 banner during opening ceremonies.
“It really was a great experience for the kids and coaching staff,” said MacLaren, adding that organizers put in all the stops to make teams feel welcome.
The next day Ponoka took on Drumheller, the team that was the eventual winner of the tournament. Despite an 8-4 loss, MacLaren was proud of the team. He said they played Drumheller at a tournament earlier in the year and lost by around 15 points. This performance showed that Ponoka had improved by quite a bit.
“There was some very strong competition in there,” said MacLaren.
The team ended things on a high note the next day, however, taking on host Spirit River. Ponoka won by a solid score of 8-3. This was Ponoka’s best game of the weekend, not just related to the score but to performance, explained MacLaren.
At the outset of the game, coaches encouraged a team effort. “We just told them to…try hard and play as a team.”
“I’ve never seen them pass the puck better,” he said.
As the season slowly comes to a close Ponoka’s McDonalds team is heading into league playoffs in the hunt for bronze. MacLaren says he’s excited to see how the team does in these last weeks of the hockey season.