By CHARLES TWEED
What they lack in size, they make up with heart and enthusiasm.
The Ponoka Timbit Mites held their Midwinter Classic last weekend. Seven other teams from across central Alberta descended on the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex to battle it out for blade supremacy.
The tournament really captures everything that is great about the game of hockey.
The kids show up at the rink early in the morning and aren’t willing to go home until the lights turn off. Rousing games of mini sticks can be seen breaking out all over the place, because it isn’t enough to play three games in two days.
Most of the players were Oilers supporters, especially Kobe Schmidt, who had good reason to have the No. 4 on the back of his jersey.
“Taylor Hall is my favorite player, that’s why I wear number four. Someday I’m going to play in the NHL too.”
Reagan Kelly and Cali Gulka strayed from the pressures of growing up in Alberta when picking their favorites.
“I like Sidney Crosby, he’s the best. I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan,” said Gulka.
As the kids started to get dressed and moms and dads helped tie skates, pull jerseys over heads and fasten helmets, the energy level continued to rise in the dressing room.
Coach Brent Evans got the team pumped up with a pre-game speech similar to Dan Bylsma, as opposed to Bruce Boudreau, that focused on skating hard, scoring goals and having fun.
When Evans asked the team, “Are you ready?” the room went from zero to 100 with screams of “Yeah!”
Unsatisfied with the decibel level in the room from the first time he asked if the team was ready, Evans asked again. This time a scream, you didn’t think could get any louder, was heard all the way to Edmonton in the Oilers dressing room at Rexall.
The energy in the dressing room transferred over to the ice as the Mites got on the board just seconds after the puck drop.
All in all, the Midwinter Classic was a huge success with the Ponoka team winning the B-final. Andrea Schmidt organized the tournament and wanted to thank everyone who supported the team.
“The volunteer group has been awesome and they are doing a ton of work. We’ve had so much support from parents and sponsors it’s been really amazing.”