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PeeWees come up short at home

Every year Jasper’s PeeWee Bears host a six-team tournament where they have a chance to test their skills against some far-flung teams as well as raise some dollars for ice and uniforms. A lot of effort, on and off the ice, goes into running a tournament. So before I get carried away, hats off to managers Ana Lea Berenguer, Christine Oeggerli and all the parents who pulled off a great event. Rarely are all tournament games as good as these nine games were. Every one was a barnburner. Here are some highlights from Jasper’s matches.

C. Gilbert photo

C. Gilbert photo

In game one, early Saturday morning, Jasper faced off against the Bonnyville Pontiacs. Bonnyville is a real hockey town, and the word was out that this was a tough team. With a couple of Jasper’s top scorers out of the lineup, the Bears would need to be at their best, and for a period and a half they were. Near the half way mark of the second period, Jasper held a commanding 4-1 lead on the strength of two sweet tip-ins by Owen Kearnan, both from Jacob Bartziokas point shots.

But then Jasper got in to some penalty trouble and the Pontiacs clawed back to within one at 4-3. A few nervous moments, but Jasper regained their form and finished off Bonnyville 7-4 thanks to a pair of late game goals from Apollo Hardman, and a Liam Crozier marker. Bear’s winger, Dylan Skinner picked up player of the game honours.

Game two for the Bears found them dropping the puck against a “city” team. The St. Albert Bruins turned out to be a tough, but classy, opponent against whom Jasper needed to put together a full team effort. Despite a trip to Sunday’s “A” final up for grabs, Jasper struggled to generate offense and beat a hot St. Albert goaltender. Hardman flicked in Jasper’s lone goal in a 2-1 Bears defeat in which Jasper’s defense, the Jacobs (Bartziokas and Bouchard), Michael Hayashi and Dexter Fawcett, were great in a losing effort. Golla got the nod as player of the game.

This landed Jasper in Sunday’s “B” final against the St. Charles Mustangs. The Mustangs are reputedly a hard-nosed team, and a bit of sandpaper was evident in Sunday morning’s tilt. Five minutes in Baden Koss fought off his man in front of the net, and hammered home a pass from Golla to open the scoring. This early goal was huge for the Bears who never looked back. Hardman gave Jasper a two-goal lead early in the second, picking up a stretch pass from Kearnan, walking past the Mustangs’ defense and burying high blocker. Bears’ netminder, Donovan Fawcett was perfect through two, and with Golla poking in a loose puck in the blue paint just seconds into the third period, Jasper had a three-goal lead to work with. But after the Bears’ third goal, St. Charles was desperate. Taking advantage of a quick puck possession off the faceoff, they gained the Bear’s zone and gritted out a goal past Fawcett. It was 3-1 for Jasper with the Mustangs back in the game. Their reputation for gritty play surfaced. Credit heads up officiating for keeping things cool though, and St. Charles’ enthusiasm translated into more penalty minutes than goals. Jasper’s first year forwards including Nash Hilworth, Janelle Tank and Henri LeClerc bore much of the brunt of the Mustangs fervour and stood tall, showing maturity that disguised their young ages. After 60 minutes, Jasper had hung on to their 3-1 lead and claimed the “B” final trophy. Tanner Carlton was player of the game for this final match.

Congratulations to the Bonnyville Pontiacs who beat the Sherwood Park Knights for the “C” trophy and the St. Paul Canadiens, who defeated the St. Albert Bruins to win the “A” final. This weekend, the PeeWees hit the road again, taking on Edson on Feb. 11. You can read about it here.

John Wilmshurst
Special to the Fitzhugh

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