Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Midget Huskies secure Provincials berth with double wins against Vulcan's Hawks

2014/15 Midget Huskies
  • Update: There will be a Midget Huskies playoff game vs Kainai, Saturday March 7, 7:00 -9:30 pm at the MCC Arena.
Chris Davis
Photos and video C. Davis/T.Lucas

Pincher Creek's Midget Huskies secured a Provincial Playoff berth with double wins against Vulcan's Hawks in the final round of Zone 5 Midget C Provincial playdowns.

Co-op's Cooper entertaining the crowd before the puck drops
On Saturday February 28 the Huskies traveled to the Vulcan rink, where they defeated the Hawks 2-1 in the first of two Provincial playdowns. On Tuesday evening February 3 the Huskies hosted the second game at the Memorial Community Centre Arena in Pincher Creek in front of a large crowd. The elimination playoff formula is simple - the team that scores the most goals at the two games  combined moves forward.

A side note, Vulcan's fans were some of the politest, most sportsmanlike fans Pincher Creek hosted at the MCC this season.

A trio of Vulcan fans, Megan Howe, Ashley Howe, and Breanna Taylor
Among the hometown fans in attendance was Cooper the Co-op bear, handing out noisemakers made from Kraft glass bear jars with macaroni inside, a nod to the ongoing effort to win the Kraft Hockeyville contest.  Lots of locals came dressed in their favourite jerseys as well.

Donna Elliott
A reminder, Jersey Day is Wednesday March 11.  A Kraft Food Bank donation box was set up in the MCC lobby.  There are also Kraft Food Bank donation boxes at the Co-op Grocery Stores, the Town of Pincher Creek Office, and at the Alberta Treasury Branch.  Town Councillor Wayne Elliott and Co-op employee (and hockey star Mom) Jennifer Draper will be rounding up the donations to take them to the Food Bank on Jersey day.  "Basically it will be a one week blitz!" explained Councillor Elliott.

Krafty hockey fans Jaydon, Jace, Jet and Abbi
First period

The game was intense from the first puck drop.  It was a real pleasure to see the Huskies face such a worthy adversary, a rare sight during the regular season.  The Huskies scored first on a power play drive at 12:24 on the clock. Craig Marshall shot netward, where Chase Snider was being booted from the crease by a Hawks defenceman, an instinctive backhand flick of Snider's stick, up and over and in, with Nic Jordan in perfect position too just in case, seconds into the power play. Goal for Snider, an assist for Marshall.  A weird goal, but a goal is a goal.  The Huskies had already been pressing the Hawks hard, and the man advantage made a goal seem almost inevitable. Snider paid his own visit to the penalty box shortly after that.  Despite many attempts by both sides, solid defensive and goalkeeping efforts held the score to 1-0 at the end of the first period.

Second period

The second period was a bit of a mess, with both teams battling hard but playing sloppy.It ended in a draw, the score unchanged at 1-0.  A battle of the goalies really, with stellar performances from Jourdan Jones (Hawks) and Jeremy Kretz (Huskies).  The Huskies really started to fall apart in the second half of the period, and it nearly cost them dearly.  Kretz held it together and quelled the Hawks' opportunities.  Jones did the same for the Hawks.

Third period

Period 3 - this one was for all the marbles.  The Hawks tied it 1-1 just 26 seconds in the period with a goal from their Captain Kyle Howe, assisted by Clay Helland and Brayden Kohut.  Now it was on.  At 17:42 on the clock Levi Anderson scored unassisted, after snagging the puck and winding in close for the kill, finding an open spot high glove-side and putting the Huskies ahead again, 2-1.  At 15:50 on the clock Colin Lincez scored for the Huskies, Anderson assisting.  3-1.  I think Craig Marshall deserves some credit on that one too.  The game got rougher and rougher, conditions under which the Huskies tend to excel, and excel they did.  Derek Tarcon scored next for the Huskies at the 12:49 mark, a textbook cherry-pick, with assists going to Anderson and Captain Jared Koentges.  4-1 Huskies.  Victory was in the air, and the hometown crowd was loving every second of it.  With 7:34 remaining in the game Tarcon stole the puck and fired off a glove-side low-corner slapshot from near the blue line, unassisted.  5-1 Huskies.  The game got a little rougher.  With 2:31 left in the game Tarcon the take-away King scored again, unassisted, another slapshot, this time to the stick-side high corner, for a natural hat trick in front of ecstatic fans.  6-1 Huskies, which stood up to the final buzzer.

With that the Huskies secured top spot in Zone 5, and they will be going to Hockey Alberta's Midget C Provincials, which will be held in Kneehill March 20-22. That's in central Alberta northwest of Drumheller.

After the game the first question I asked Huskies Coach Kent Goodreau was related to the above and beyond performance of netminder Jeremy Kretz.  Someone who saw him win the shootout at the Casey Cup in Montana told me his performance there was special, an athlete coming into his own. "He hadn't faced a lot of shots until that game we played down in Montana," said Goodreau.  "He faced a lot of shots, and stood up to it, and went into a shootout in the 11th round.  We won the shootout in the 11th round."  Given that the Huskies faced little opposition during the regular Spud League season, watching Kretz at work against the dynamic Hawks was a treat.  "It was unreal," said Goodreau.  "He's used to not getting any shots, and not being involved in the game, and to step it up like he did tonight is incredible."

Unfortunately, Kretz and three other Huskies won't be making it to Provincials.  Goodreau explained they were going to England on a school trip. "All four of them we're going to be sad to miss when we go to Provincials."

"That's why I had another goalie step in for us, (Briggs Ascione) from Warner.  He's going to be the one stepping into the net for us."

"We haven't practiced with him.  He did play one game in Fort Macleod for us when our goalie couldn't make it."

Ascione was on the Huskies bench for Tuesday's game against Vulcan.  That's him (wearing Bauer pads) to Jeremy Kretz's left in the team picture up top.

Tyson Goodreau, still on the injured list, gets some help leaving the rink
I asked Coach Goodreau about the Huskies' slump in the second period in the game against Vulcan.  "I think we fell asleep in the second.  Thought we had it won... the boys pumped themselves up in the dressing room, and they came out in the third, wanting to go to Provincials,  and it showed.  I still think that when they all want to play hockey, they're a hard team to beat."  I asked him if it helped when they got a little mad.  "A couple of them, yeah, they've got to get hit hard before they play."

"First period, I thought went well.  We played good hockey, and Vulcan is a great hockey team.  They have 10 third-years on their team.  We have 3, so for us to play with them, it wasn't our best period, but we played with them and we did what we had to. In the second, well I don't even want to talk about it, but the third was phenomenal, to get that many boys to step it up."

I asked if Vulcan was the toughest team the Huskies faced this season so far. "One of the toughest, yeah."  Of the first game in Vulcan Goodreau said "Levi (Anderson) wasn't there, Ethan (Richards) wasn't there, and we still won 2-1.  We played hockey."

"I know that when we get into Provincials, I've been there once before, twice, and there's some good hockey teams up there.  But these boys want to play, they're going to be competitive, even with missing four."

Goodreau was also pleased with the fan support the final game against Vulcan.  "Very good, that's the biggest crowd I've seen in years, it was great."

The Huskies have Spud League Playoffs to deal with next.  "We play the winner of Kainai/Picture Butte for league playoffs," Goodreau explained, adding that Warner plays Bow Island. "I think we'll be done before Provincials.

Huskies highlights

Cooper reminds you to support Pincher Creek's Kraft Hockeyville bid

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