Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bantam Chinooks win a mild one and a wild one at home

Chris Davis, Pincher Creek Voice

Pincher Creek's Bantam Chinooks played two home games this weekend, the first on Saturday, October 27 against Picture Butte, and the second on Sunday, October 28 against Kainai.

Here are the stories of those two very different games, with videos at the end.

Bantam Chinooks vs Picture Butte
C. Davis photos and video

Bantam Chinooks versus Picture Butte:

The Bantam Chinooks Saturday afternoon game against Picture Butte was a rather one-sided affair, with the Chinooks establishing their dominance early on and maintaining it throughout the game.  The Chinooks were in fine form, demonstrating some great passing plays, particularly in front of the Picture Butte net, and their teamwork skills were rather impressive.  The Chinooks also had an advantage on the bench, having almost twice as many players as Picture Butte.

Chinooks #15 Sam Gerrand was a phenomenon, scoring the first goal of the game, unassisted, less than three minutes in.  In total Gerrand scored 3 times and got a couple of assists as well.  #19 Ethan Richards scored twice, including a smooth one in the second period that almost seemed like an afterthought.   #11 Ethan Richards got a goal and 2 assists.  #9 Nic Jordan scored one and got an additional assist. #18 Emily Wittkopf scored unassisted and got two assists.  #5 Kieran Douglas got a goal and two assists.  #14 Bryce Conley got a goal, as did #3 Jacoby Provost.  #2 Chaz Vance scored once and got an assist.  #28 Colin Lincez got an assist.  Goalie Jeremy Kretz spent a fair bit of time alone, as the play tended to be concentrated around the Picture Butte net at the other side of the ice, but when called upon he performed admirably, letting in only one goal in the whole game, that one by Picture Butte's Captain, #22 Jesse Shoemaker, assisted by #14 Zak Liska.

Chinooks #4 Tyson Goodreau sustained a wrist injury after an unlucky fall and had to miss the latter part of the game.  It looks like he will be out for a while.  Emily Wittkopf is proving to be a hard-checking opponent out there.  She also sustained a mild concussion in the game and is out for about a week, and dynamo Haylie Klyen suffered a similar fate.  The Chinooks made good use of the boards throughout.  Penalties were kept to a minimum for the most part, and the clock was allowed to run after a certain point. Only one goal was scored in the third period, and the Chinooks seemed to be concentrating on ironing out their plays by that point.

Final score: Chinooks 12, Picture Butte 1.

Bantam Chinooks versus Kainai Chiefs:

Bantam Chinooks vs Kainai Chiefs
Chris Davis photos and video

Contrasted with their game the day before against Picture Butte, when the Bantam Chinooks hosted the Kainai Chiefs on Sunday afternoon they were up against a very different challenge.  First of all, the Kainai team was much bigger.  Their players towered over ours, for the most part. Kainai also turned out to be tough competitors.  The Chinooks were also missing a few teammates due to injuries.

The first order of business for the Chinooks was to demonstrate that they did in fact mean business.  Right out of the gate they were flying, fast and relentless.  Any doubt that the Chinooks could stand up to the big boys was eliminated 13 minutes and 38 seconds later when #19 Ethan Richards scored a slick goal off of a beautiful setup by #15 Sam Gerrand.

Pincher Creek's defence stood their ground against the Kainai juggernaut,  despite being heavily challenged, particularly in their own crease.  Chinooks Goalie #30 Matthew Duncan was a formidable force, stopping puck after puck and providing excellent coverage of his net at all times.   #12 Whyat Bruder was phenomenal, skating circles around guys twice his size. #16 Bryce Braun was digging in hard, and Richards was ferociously fast, taking advantage of every opportunity.  The Chinooks skated very well, playing a modern and intelligent  brand of hockey.

With 5:55 left in the first period Chinooks #5 Keiran Douglas scored, assisted by #2 Chaz Vance and Sam Gerrand.  The three of them set up a beautiful combination play, everybody was ready for their opportunity and knew just what to do with it, like a well-oiled machine. 2-0 for the Chinooks.  Kainai pushed back, hard, and showed some strong offensive abilities, passing and handling the puck well and shooting hard, but Duncan had it covered.  With 2:54 left in the period, another textbook example of teamwork and passing at the Kainai net gave Douglas his second goal of the game, assisted this time by #9 Nic Jordan. The puck seemed destined to go in on that play.  23 seconds later, off the faceoff, Sam Gerrand scored, assisted by Chaz Vance. Kainai made a few attempts on the Pincher Creek net but Matthew Duncan shut them down every time, and the period ended with the Chinooks ahead 4-0.  Unfortunately, Chinooks #25 Zach Krampe was seriously hurt during the period, and he's not expected to lace up again for a while.  The Chiefs took 6 penalties in the first period, contrasted with 4 for Pincher Creek.

A rather disturbing incident occurred during the intermission between the first and second periods, as a visiting "fan" became verbally aggressive and threatening.  The game was suspended prior to commencing the second period.  A Kainai coach was ejected from the game and play was allowed to continue.

Heading into the second period, the Chinooks were visibly disheartened by the injuries and bruises sustained in the first.  Matthew Duncan was pressed hard in the net, and made a series of great saves before one got by him, and Kainai was on the board.  Chiefs #7 Hayden Twigg got the nod on that one, assisted by #15 Jayce Bear and #16 Shay Rabbit Mistaken Chief. A couple of minutes later Chiefs Captain #10 Bailey Day Chief scored, also assisted by Bear and Rabbit Mistaken Chief, and the score stood at 4-2.  Seeming to shake off their malaise in the final quarter of the period, and despite some more bruising, the Chinooks rebounded and with 8:42 left in the period Gerrand got his second goal of the game, assisted by Richards.  5-2.  Kainai's #17 Adriano Rabbit scored again at the 5:38 mark, assisted by the Bear/Rabbit Mistaken Chief combo.  5-3.  With 3:49 left in the period, Nic Jordan set Chaz Vance up nicely, and Vance unleashed his powerful slapshot from the blueline and in it went, putting the Chinooks ahead at the end of the second period 6-3.  Unbelievable grit and determination.  Only 2 penalties for the Chinooks in the second, and 4 for Kainai.

Into the third period the Chinooks were limping, battered, assuredly bruised, and apparently unbowed.  A particularly dirty play by Kainai resulted in another bad injury for Ethan Richards of the Chinooks, who had to leave the ice, and apparently protesting that led to the ejection of their Head Coach, Randy Wittkopf.

The play continued, with the Chinooks again obviously a bit disheartened and concerned for their injured teammates.  Kainai hammered their net, and Matthew Duncan stopped a fair few before Chiefs #37 Kyle Many Fingers managed to knock one in, assisted by Adriano Rabbit.  6-4.  The penalties began to mount for Kainai.  They were wearing the Chinooks down. The score became 6-5, then 6-6, then 6-7, and it began to look like it was going to slip away for the Chinooks.  They were still outskating the Chiefs, but Chiefs goalie #1 Trey Three Persons wasn't letting anything in, and a lot of the play was concentrated in and around the crease of the Chinooks' net.  Then, with 7:14 left in the game Chinooks #11 Jessen Luco decided it was his turn, tying it up 7-7 with an assist by Keiran Douglas.  Those two turned it around for the Chinooks right there.  Kainai kept crowding Matthew Duncan's crease, but he was an impenetrable moving wall.

In a piece of bob-and-weave magic Sam Gerrand made the nicest play I saw all weekend, proving that sometimes hockey is down to one guy against the odds, and when he was finished so was Kainai.  They pulled their goalie for the last couple of minutes, and it almost cost the Chiefs another goal.

At the buzzer it was 8-7 for Pincher Creek's outstanding Bantam Chinooks.

It was an amazing performance by a team that seemed to have no idea it was supposed to be the underdog, and therefore wasn't.

"It got a little close, and it shouldn't have been," said Head Coach Randy Wittkopf after the game.  "I think intimidation had a huge factor on it. Huge kids, 13 years... a big gap there."

Wrap up:

The Bantam Chinooks are undefeated after 3 regular season Spud League games.  Kainai has now lost 2 and won 1.

Coach Wittkopf was understandably upset and concerned about the injuries sustained by the kids on his team.  Three concussions in two days of play put a damper on any feeling of celebration for the team, who were all concerned about their injured friends and team mates.  "Once you see someone get hurt, it always has a negative effect on the team," he said.   "They're pretty upset, three players down. They're very close-knit. It hurts.  The girls are also both out for a week, both with mild concussions."

In terms of growth and improvement he said "This week we worked on a few things. We're trying to stress to the boys that good players can go down the ice by themselves, and get a shot on goal, a great player can make the passes. These kids are looking for the passes. As we're teaching them our coaching along the bench we can see them going out and actually doing it, and it's a great feeling for us, the coaching staff."

"Everyone is improving every time we go on the ice. they've got open minds, they all want to learn, they all have goals in life. Some short term, some long term.  As for the Bantam Huskies biggest strength he said "Definitely skating. Absolutely, that is one of my highest priorities coaching a team."

"We're constantly working on our assistance. Floor checking assistance, in our own end, too. And our mutual zone. We're working really, really hard on our mutual zone and clean transaction, that's what we call it. Going from defense to offense (smoothly)."  Assistant Coach Mack Jordan also cited their agility.

The Chinooks will likely be playing short handed until their various injured players are healed up.

2012-2013 Bantam Chinooks
Coach Wittkopf and Assistant Coach Mack Jordan also play for the Senior Huskies.  Wittkopf said he was very excited to be back on the ice in that capacity after an 18 year absence from the league.  "I love it, it's great so far," he enthused.


Bantam Chinooks vs Kainai Chiefs

Bantam Chinooks vs Picture Butte

Click here to visit our Pincher Creek Minor Hockey page for updates to the schedules, links to the stories and videos, and all sorts of other minor hockey related stuff.

Bantam Chinooks Standings to date:  3 wins, no losses
Win October 20, 4-2 vs Lethbridge 4
Win October 27, 12-1 vs Picture Butte
Win October 28, 8-7 vs Kainai

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