Season starts for Jasper U11 Bears
Lucas Habib | Special to the Fitzhugh
After two months of practicing in the ‘Hinton Bubble’ – thanks to Jasper’s arena construction – the first game of the season finally came for the U11 (Atom) Bears.
As the team rolled east through the park enroute to Thorsby, there was still uncertainty in the air around the results of the US election.
As we rounded Disaster Point and came back into cell range, people’s phones started dinging with the news that Joe Biden had been declared the winner.
Unfortunately, the Bears weren’t quite as successful in their two weekend games against the Thorsby region’s top-ranked team.
Coming off of a COVID-cancelled trip to provincials last season, the Bears suffered through an early season plagued by arena renos, which caused limited practice time and the loss of four top second-year players to the Hinton team.
That meant that the Thorsby games were the first time many of the young draft picks had played on full ice, complete with offsides and penalties and on-the-fly line changes.
More than a couple of times was one player standing alone in the offensive zone while the rest of the team yelled “YOU’RE OFFSIDE!!!”
But hey, that’s how you learn.
Despite the onslaught from the far more experienced Thorsby kids, Jasper’s goalies delivered – veteran Carter Schmidt stood tall in net while rookie Jackson Hughes worked on his butterfly, and the rest of the team improved as the weekend went on.
In the first game though, as the goals kept mounting for Thorsby, at least one Jasper parent could be heard muttering, “They should really just stop the count”.
Arlo Kennedy potted one in the third to break the shutout.
On Sunday, following a manic pizza-fuelled night at the hotel pool, Round 2 began.
These were tiering games, meaning that it’s a “sorting out” at the start of the season to see where all the teams in the league fit. Once regular league play begins in January, Jasper will be more matched against equal teams.
Sunday’s game went better as the team found its footing – Max Lescard was on fire, streaking down the ice time and again to net a hat trick.
The two games were good and clean, the Bears were not sore losers in the least, and Thorsby was gracious in victory.
However, as the team waits to find out where and when its next tiering games will be, the Bears may have lost but they will refuse to concede defeat.