RED DEER - As the 2016 portion of the Alberta Female Hockey League season comes to a close, the St. Albert Slash (Midget AAA), Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs (Midget Elite), and Calgary Fire White (Bantam Elite) all lead their respective leagues heading into 2017.
St Albert’s first year forward Madison Willan closes out 2016 leading all skaters in points (24) and assists (11). Rocky Mountain Raiders forward Nicole Fry is tied with Willan for the lead league in points, and leads the way goals (15).
AFHL puck stoppers had another strong month with three goaltenders at the top all with a .940 save percentages: St. Albert’s Brianna Sank, Calgary’s Katie Crowther and Lloydminster’s Bella McKee. Sank boasts three shutouts while her counterpart in St Albert, Camryn Drever, leads the way with 8 wins on the season.
Outside of AFHL Play, Calgary Fire, Lloydminster Steelers and Rocky Mountain Raiders traveled to Saskatchewan to compete in the Mandi Schwartz Memorial Tournament. All three teams has a strong showing and competed hard throughout the weekend.
Our Midget Elite teams had a hard fought first half of the season as the competitiveness of this division increases. The Midget Elite standings at the end of December are:
Calgary Fire White’s Danika Stang has taken over the league lead in points with 19, while Red Deer’s Danica Polson holds the lead in goals (14), and St. Albert’s Payden Bialowas leads the way in assists (10).
Jayda Thompson of Red Deer continues to lead all Midget Elite goaltenders with a .860 goals against average, a 960 save percentage, along with six wins on the season. Peace Country’s Paige Jassman leads the way in wins and shutouts, with 12 and six, respectively.
Rosters for the inaugural AFHL Midget Elite All-Star Game were announced on December 20. Rosters >
Things remain tight in the hunt for the Bantam Elite regular season title! Four points separate third from first in the North, whereas down south, Calgary White and the Olds Grizzlys are battling it out for top position. The Bantam Elite standings heading into January are:
Rosters for the inaugural AFHL Midget Elite All-Star Game were announced on December 20. Rosters >
Teams have earned a well-deserved winter break and league play will resume on January 7, after the holidays. January will be an exciting month as league play resumes as well the AFHL host its inaugural All Star Games and AFHL teams will help celebrateAlberta Hockey Day on January 21.
In fact, it was a very busy year on the technology front, with the unveiling of the new Provincial Championships sites (haprovincials.ca), the Alberta Cup site (abcup.ca), and the transition of the Hockey Alberta Foundation website (hockeyalbertafoundation.ca) back to the Hockey Alberta platform.
Then, in August, Hockey Alberta proudly announced a new visual identity, unveiling a new logo that combines a number of elements that focus on how to best represent hockey in Alberta.
2016 was another successful year for Hockey Alberta’s Team Alberta program, with medals in three different inter-provincial events.
Team Alberta U16 Male continued its winning ways at the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup in October, earning its third-straight gold medal, and fifth in the tournament’s six-year history. Click here for the full story.
Team Alberta North came out of the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in March with a gold medal on the male side, and a silver medal on the female. Click here for the full story.
At the Alberta Winter Games in Medicine Hat in February, it was Zone 6 Male (Edmonton) and Zone 5 Female (Yellowhead/Blackgold) skating away with gold medals, proving to be the best in the province. Click here for the full story.
The March to a title
The 2016 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, saw 39 different battles for provincial supremacy from Atom to Senior. Provincials were hosted across the Alberta as far north as High Level, and as far south as Taber. The annual “March to a title” is always a high point for minor hockey across Alberta, and 2016 marked the first year with ATB Financial as presenting sponsor.
Despite trailing 2-0 and 3-2 at different points in the game, Calgary South used a six goal third period to defeat Northeast 9-3 to capture the 2016 Alberta Cup. The win is an extra-special one for Calgary South Head Coach Jamie Steer, as he won the first ever Alberta Cup as a player with Calgary South in 1986, a story-book ending to the celebration of 30 years of the Alberta Cup.
2016 was a banner year for Alberta players and officials, achieving a number of accolades and recognition.
For the first time since 1993, Alberta players were selected 1-2-3 in the WHL Bantam Draft. Peyton Krebs of Okotoks was taken first overall by the Kootenay Ice, with Fort Saskatchewan native Kirby Dach and Cochrane’s Bowen Byram going second and third to the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants, respectively. In total, 73 players from Alberta were selected in the 2016 draft. Click here for the full story.
At the 2016 NHL draft, 16 Albertans heard their names called by an NHL team. Jake Bean was the highest-drafted Albertan, going 13th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. Team Alberta alumnus Sam Steel also went in the first round, as the Anaheim Ducks selected him with the 30th pick. Click here for the full story.
“Do what’s best for the children in your Minor Hockey Association”
At Hockey Alberta’s Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting in June, keynote speaker, Dr. Stephen Norris, delivered a powerful message about doing what’s best for children in minor hockey. Following the keynote presentation, Norris was joined in a round-table panel discussion by Keith Hansen, retired volleyball coach at Red Deer College and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame; Lyn Radford, Board Chair, 2019 Canada Winter Games; and Rob Litwinski, Chief Executive Officer, Hockey Alberta.
Hockey Alberta’s inaugural Coaches Conference saw over 80 minor hockey coaches from across Alberta come together in Calgary for two days presentations from 17 of the top minds in hockey. Presenters included Hockey Canada coaching legend Mel Davidson, Medicine Hat Tigers Coach and General Manager Shaun Clouston, Hockey Alberta Coach Mentors Barry Medori and Fran Gow, and Finnish Ice Hockey Association Regional Coach Kalle Valiaho.
Five outstanding individuals and one team were enshrined in the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in July, including former Boston Bruins legend and Hockey Hall of Fame member Johnny Bucyk.
Joining Bucyk in the class of 2016 was Mike Rogers (retired NHL and WHA player, and former Calgary Flames broadcaster), Dr. George Kingston (internationally-renowned coach), Terry Ledingham (long-time Hockey Alberta and Hockey Canada volunteer), the 1965-66 champion Edmonton Oil Kings, and Larry Kwong, the first player of Asian descent to play in the NHL. Click here for the full story.
In February, Female Hockey Builder Shirley Cameron was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. The Edmonton native was at the forefront of women’s ice hockey in Canada for 30 years as a player, coach and builder from the early 1970s until her retirement from the game in 2006. Click here for the full story.
Continued growth of the Initiation Program
Hockey Alberta’s Initiation Program continued to grow in 2016, with enhanced focus on our game’s youngest players.
A partnership with Pembina Pipeline Corporation offered a special grant to Minor Hockey Associations to obtain a full set of foam rink dividers, or fundraising towards a set of puck board rink dividers. The response was overwhelming, with nearly 60 minor hockey associations across Alberta applying to receive ice dividers. And Pembina responded by ensuring that every eligible applicant had a set of divider boards in place for the 2016-17 season. Click here for the full story.
In August, Hockey Alberta partnered with Powerscout Hockey and St. Albert Minor Hockey to conduct a study on the effectiveness of smaller ice surfaces in skill development. Results reinforced that using a smaller ice surface at the Initiation level helps in the overall positive development of skating skills and skating acceleration for our youngest players, thereby better preparing them for when they are old enough to move to higher levels of hockey. To read more about the findings from this study, click here.
The Alberta Female Hockey League kicks off its inaugural season
Hockey Alberta is proud to unveil a new section at hockeyalberta.ca. Home Ice Feature stories will focus on interesting stories about the individuals and groups who make a difference within the hockey community in Alberta. If you have a suggestion for a Home Ice Feature story, email [email protected].
FORT MCMURRAY - In the aftermath of devastating wildfires that impacted northeastern Alberta in May, the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association has emerged as a source of stability for a community filled with uncertainty.
As residents returned to Fort McMurray throughout the summer, following the evacuation of nearly 90,000 people, the community was looking for any signs of normalcy.
“We had a lot of people wondering when hockey was going to start, saying that ‘we need hockey to go, we need hockey,’” said Travis Galenzoski, president of Fort McMurray Minor Hockey. “People were looking to hockey for a calming effect. Spending a day at the arena is normal, it provides an outlet.”
In the early going, though, there weren’t many answers. The fires and evacuation meant the association had not held its annual general meeting. Jerseys and equipment needed to be cleaned or repaired. And then there was an even bigger question - would there be a place to play?
“There was uncertainty in ice availability. Were we going to get our home arena back?” said Galenzoski. “The biggest thing was not knowing. Once we got our arena back, the front of the season was extremely busy and pretty stressful. Thanks to the hard work of our arena manager, operations manager, and a whole lot of volunteers, we made it happen. Other than a bit of a delay in starting evaluations, our players’ hockey experience has not changed.”
Registration numbers are down slightly (about three per cent) for the 2016-17 season. But more than 1,100 players, comprising approximately 60 teams, are on the ice. And the association is hosting Hockey Alberta’s Atom AA Major provincial championships in March.
“This is fantastic. We have managed to put on a hockey program after an 88,000-person evacuation,” said Galenzoski.
To help support minor hockey in the northeast, Fort McMurray minor hockey and players throughout the region are the beneficiaries of $21,500 raised collectively by Hockey Canada, Hockey Alberta, Hockey Canada Foundation and Hockey Alberta Foundation.
$1,500 raised at Hockey Alberta’s 2016 annual general meeting through contributions from Local Minor Hockey Associations across Alberta.
“Our hearts went out to the community and residents of Fort McMurray this summer who faced displacement, devastation, and loss. To see the relentless work of the volunteers of Fort Mac’s hockey community to ensure their players, coaches, officials, and fans all had hockey to turn to this season as they work to rebuild was truly inspiring,” said Tom Renney, president and chief executive officer of Hockey Canada. “Hockey Canada and the Hockey Canada Foundation are proud to contribute to the efforts of the Fort McMurray Minor Hockey Association, and to support this resilient community as they move forward from this summer’s devastating fire.”
All funds will go directly towards support the players, families and coaches who were impacted by the devastating forest fires that impacted the region in May. Planned initiatives include supporting ongoing player development programs, implementing a coach development plan in partnership with Hockey Alberta’s Regional Centre network, and player assistance and growing the game initiatives.
“Our biggest area of opportunity is development for our coaches,” said Galenzoski. “We want to invest in our coaches, and we believe that investment in coaching has a direct correlation with player development and participation.”
Player development programming started about six weeks ago, with a goal of having each team participate in 3-5 development sessions. The association is also looking to host division-specific sessions for goaltenders, with mentors coming in to provide development opportunities.
“The Hockey Alberta Foundation, through the Every Kid Every Community program, is proud to play a role in assisting Fort McMurray Minor Hockey continue in its leadership role, not just for hockey, but within the overall community. We look forward to supporting a number of initiatives that will benefit current coaches and players, as well as those who want to play hockey for the first time,” said Tim Leer, executive director of the Hockey Alberta Foundation.
Growing the game initiatives aimed at attracting new players to the game by providing equipment and helping with registration fees will be geared to recruiting for the 2017-18 season.
For more information, check out the association’s website at www.fmmha.com.
Contributions at the 2016 Hockey Alberta AGM included seven minor hockey associations (Caroline, Hinton, Lloydminster, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Hockey Edmonton and Hockey Calgary), and two individuals (Jody Ginther and Betty Chmilar).
For individuals or groups interested in making a donation to support Fort McMurray minor hockey, the Hockey Alberta Foundation is accepting donations, with 100 per cent of funds donated going to Fort McMurray. Donations can be made at hockeyalbertafoundation.ca, or by going to this link:
Two forwards and one defence from each AFHL team were selected to their respective All-Star rosters by AFHL coaches, while goaltenders were selected based on their statistical ranking as of December 19. The coaches chosen to represent the North and South teams in each league are from the first and second place teams within each division.
Both All-Star games are set for January 14 - with Red Deer hosting the Midget Elite game, and Strathmore hosting the Bantam Elites. The Midget Elite All-Star game begins at 1:30 p.m. at the Penhold Regional Multiplex, and the Bantam Elite All-Star game gets underway at 1:45 at the Strathmore Family Centre.
In addition to the All Star games, the host Associations will be offering development clinics for female athletes within their communities.
GRANDE PRAIRIE - Hockey Alberta is proud to host its inaugural Alberta Hockey Day on January 21, 2017, to celebrate and showcase female hockey across the province.
This day will combine a number of on and off-ice events catered to both new and existing participants, focusing on fun, skills and friendships.
Grande Prairie will be the host site of Alberta Hockey Day’s main event, with special guests scheduled to attend, including two-time Olympic gold medallist and former Team Alberta player and coach Carla MacLeod.
Edmonton, Calgary, Leduc, Lloydminster, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Olds and Banff/Canmore will also host Alberta Hockey Day Events.
Hockey Alberta’s goal is to develop female players, coaches and officials who are currently in our program while introducing the sport to new participants. All sessions offered throughout the day will be at no cost to the participants, in an effort to connect our sport to a larger audience.