Midget 15 Hurricanes perfect at the Prairie Classic
The Lethbridge Headwater midget 15 Hurricanes displayed the same form that won them the Logan Boulet Tournament. That was hardly a bad thing. In fact, it landed the Canes their second tournament title in just under three months after capturing top spot at the Prairie Classic last weekend in Caronport, Sask.
Facing the Prairie Hockey Academy in the gold medal game Sunday, the Canes posted a 7-4 win to run the table at a perfect 5-0, capture the second annual tournament title and build on their thirdplace finish in the four-team tournament last year.
For Canes coach Geoff Oster, it was a little deja-vu of the good sort.
“We saw a little bit of what our team was at the Logan Boulet Tournament,” he said of the mid-October tournament at the ATB Centre. “We had a consistent effort from all 19 players. Our goaltending was very good all weekend and that helps in short term competition. The boys bought into the system”
The Canes started the tournament with 2-1 and 4-3 wins over the Medicine Hat SEAC Tigers and the Prairie Hockey Academy, respectively, Friday.
They finished the round-robin Saturday morning with a 3-0 shutout of the Sherwood Park Athletic Club Kings.
The Hurricanes earned their spot in the final with another one-goal win over the Tigers, defeating Medicine Hat 4-3 in the semifinal.
Facing the Prairie Hockey Academy for the second time in the weekend, Vann Yuhas scored early on the man advantage to get the Hurricanes rolling.
“In the final we were fortunate to get out to an early lead,” said Oster. “We got on the board early with a power-play goal from Vann. We started creating turnovers in the offensive zone and we capitalized on a few opportunities.”
Capturing the Logan Boulet Tournament back in October came with a bit of a price when the Hurricanes returned to their Alberta Minor Midget Hockey League schedule.
“In my opinion in the last month we kind of suffered a little bit of a tournament hangover from the tournament in Lethbridge,” said Oster. “It’s taken a little while for us to get back out of it. The league doesn’t help. It’s a great league, but sometimes the teams in Calgary are so inconsistent. We struggle with finding high-end competition and when we do it’s nice to have because it’s so much easier to play your system when the other team has a good system. You are forced to work harder.”
Last weekend the Canes won a tournament title they had to work for and the timing is great as the team returns to league play
“It’s huge,” said Oster. “The 15year-old league for playoffs is
essentially a short-term competition. So this is such a big stepping stone towards our preparing for the Sutter Cup and the kids getting that momentum going into it. You don’t want to peak too early and you don’t want to peak too late. You want to peak at the right time.
“With the Sutter Cup, they’ve changed the format this year to three pools. We’re not sure what we’re going to face or who we are going to face. Having seen how they’ve performed in the two tournaments they’ve gone to it really gives the coaching staff a little bit of confidence that we should be able to compete very well at provincials for a third straight year.”
The Hurricanes are 17-3-3 and in third in the South Division, three points back of the AC Avalanche and eight behind the Okotoks Oilers.
They’ll look to start closing the gap with a pair of home games
this weekend, starting with the Edmonton SSAC United Cycle Bulldogs Saturday at 4:45 p.m. at the Logan Boulet Arena.
The 15-6-3 Bulldogs are in second place in the North Division.
“I’m expecting a very good game and hopefully we can bounce back and not suffer the tournament hangover,” said Oster. “I’m confident with the kids going in. Number one, we got through the tournament with no injuries and that’s huge. So if we can get through shortterm competition without any injuries then that’s great. That’s half the battle. Hopefully we can stay healthy going into the last half of the year and have a good showing at the Sutter Cup.”
The Hurricanes host the Calgary CRAA Gold Sunday at 11:45 a.m., also at the Logan Boulet Arena.
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