Prairie Hockey Academy wins Prairie Clas­sic

Moose Jaw - - Sports -

The Prairie Hockey Academy con­tin­ues to see in­cred­i­ble re­sults from game to game, week­end to week­end. This past week­end was no ex­cep­tion as they hosted their first-ever Elite 15’s tour­na­ment and, true to form, saw the kind of re­sults they could only dream about – an un­de­feated record through the round robin fol­lowed by a shootout win to claim the gold medal in the cham­pi­onship fi­nal at Bark­man Arena in Caron­port.

It was the first set of games for newly minted head coach Lorne Molleken and a show­ing that team cap­tain Evan Cal­laghan felt was earned, given their re­cent run of suc­cess.

“It’s really ex­cit­ing, I think the boys bat­tled pretty hard the whole week­end and we de­served it,” Cal­laghan said shortly after At­ley Calvert’s shootout goal and Nathan Airey’s fi­nal save gave PHA a 3-2 win over the St. Al­bert Fly­ers, one of the top teams in the Al­berta Midget AAA league.

“We just have to stay com­posed, though, for the rest of the sea­son,” he added. “We have a long way to go but I think this is a good con­fi­dence booster for us and we’re really happy with it.”

The cham­pi­onship fi­nal was a back-and-forth bat­tle from start to fin­ish, with St. Al­bert tak­ing a 1-0 lead out of the first pe­riod. The lead held un­til late in the se­cond Noah Bar­lage and Max Wan­ner scored power play goals 10 sec­onds apart for a 2-1 edge. The Fly­ers would get that one back be­fore the pe­riod was out, though, send­ing things into the third all tied up. “We were able to push back and get a cou­ple of goals really quick and that really changed mo­men­tum for us in the game and turned the game in our favour,” Cal­laghan said. “They got one more on us, but we were able to shut them down the rest of the game and get a huge win for our team.”

The vic­tory capped off a stel­lar run for the Cougars, as they opened the tour­na­ment with a 7-1 win over the SEAC Tigers out of Medicine Hat. Calvert and Kirk Mullen had two goals each in the game, to go along with sin­gle mark­ers from Bar­lage, Liam McIn­nis and Chris Ot­ter­son. Chase Cow­ard was the win­ning goal­tender.

Things were far closer in their round robin matchup with the Fly­ers, which went to an 18-player shootout that saw Airey make all nine of his saves and McIn­nis score the even­tual win­ning goal. Calvert had two more goals in reg­u­la­tion; Cae­lan Fitz­patrick had their other marker.

PHA closed out the round robin with a 3-0 win over the Leth­bridge Head­wa­ter Hur­ri­canes, with Cow­ard pick­ing up the shutout. Ot­ter­son scorede twice, Tyson Kist­ner had their other goal.

For his part, Molleken was im­pressed with what he saw from his new team – even if he didn’t have a lot of time to work with the squad.

“The big­gest thing is what they had in place was work­ing and we just wanted to con­tinue to build on that,” Molleken said. “Ob­vi­ously, there will be some tweaks from there, but the staff that’s worked with this team has done a tremen­dous job and they have a tremen­dous group of young men that have tremen­dous char­ac­ter.”

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