RED DEER - As 2017 comes to a close, Hockey Alberta looks back on the year that was with some of our favourite moments (in no particular order).
Alberta Hockey Day - Why We Play
Photo credit: MT Actions Photography
Hockey Alberta held its inaugural Alberta Hockey Day on January 21 to celebrate and showcase female hockey across the province. This day combined a number of on and off-ice events catered to both new and existing participants, focusing on fun, skills and friendships.
Grande Prairie served as the host site of Alberta Hockey Day’s main event, with special guests in attendance, including two-time Olympic gold medallist and former Team Alberta player and coach Carla MacLeod. Additional Alberta Hockey Day celebrations were held across the province.
Alberta Hockey Day 2018 is set for January 20 in Westlock, Brooks, Paradise Valley, Strathmore, Red Deer and High Level, with a special focus on age-appropriate hockey.
Alberta Goalie Plan
Photo credit: Raw Impressions
Hockey Alberta unveiled its Provincial Goaltender Development Plan in February, to ensure that Alberta’s goaltenders, and their coaches, are properly equipped for the best performance possible in the specialized position.
The first step was to identify and recruit six Regional Goaltending Leads, who are strategically located around the province, and will work as part of Hockey Alberta’s Regional Centre network. Each Regional Goalie Lead will provide leadership and support to minor hockey associations and Regional Centre Consultants in implementing Hockey Alberta’s Goaltending Development Plan throughout their region.
All six Goaltending Leads attended Hockey Alberta’s 2017 Development Seminars in Sylvan Lake in June, where they took part in a weekend of training and strategizing on how to carry out Hockey Alberta’s Goaltender Development Plan throughout the Province.
In addition to the Development Seminars, Hockey Alberta held three Goaltender Development Camps in May and June; a North and South Goaltender Camp in Edmonton and Cochrane, and an Elite Goaltender Development Camp in Sylvan Lake.
The true spirit of Provincials
The 2017 Hockey Alberta Provincial Championships, presented by ATB Financial, saw 16 host communities take part in True Spirit of Hockey Day: 3Cs, Athabasca, Battle River, Delburne, Elk Point, Fairview, Fort McMurray, Hanna, High Prairie, Kneehill, Okotoks, Olds, Rocky Mountain House, Slave Lake, Sherwood Park and Strathmore.
In conjunction with the Provincial Championship tournament hosts in these communities, local schools hosted a number of fun activities, allowing students to learn about hockey, and the teamwork and friendships that can be generated in the sport.
In the annual "March to a title", 39 new champions were crowned across the province from Atom to Senior.
The South will rise again
It was a banner year for Southern Alberta players, as South teams came out on top at the Alberta Cup, Alberta Challenge and Peewee Prospects Cup.
Photo credit: LA Media
Team South went wire-to-wire as the tournament’s top team to win the 2017 Alberta Cup. South went undefeated (4-0-1) through the tournament, and clinched the Alberta Cup with a 5-1 win over Northwest. Click here for the full story >
Photo credit: LA Media
Photo credit: LA Media
South Black made it a clean sweep for South teams in 2017, rebounding from a slow start to win the 2017 Peewee Prospects Cup, defeating North Grey 4-1 to clinch the title. Click here for the full story >
St. Albert Slash go all the way
As the inaugural Alberta Female Hockey League season came to a close, the St. Albert Slash (Midget AAA), not only made league history, but National history as well.
After winning the first Midget AAA title in AFHL history, the Slash went on to win the 2017 Esso Cup, the first Alberta team to do so.
The inaugural Midget Elite and Bantam Elite titles went to the Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs and Calgary Fire White, respectively.
Alberta players, officials take the next step
Photo credit: Colorado Avalanche (YouTube)
2017 was another a banner year for Alberta players and officials, achieving a number of accolades and recognition.
The 2017 WHL Bantam Draft was once again a strong showing for Albertans, with 74 players from Alberta drafted, including Sherwood Park’s Kaiden Guhle and Wainwright’s Connor McLennan, who were drafted first and second overall, respectively. It was the third straight year a player from Alberta was drafted first overall. Click here for the full story >
At the 2017 NHL draft, 16 Albertans heard their names called by an NHL team. Calgary’s Cale Makar made history by becoming the highest drafted player out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League when the Colorado Avalanche selected him fourth overall. Click here for the full story >
Six Albertans were among the 113 female hockey players selected in the 2017 Canadian Women’s Hockey League Draft. Defender Taryn Baumgardt (Innisfail) was the first Albertan off the board, taken fifth overall by the Calgary Inferno. Click here for the full story >
Three Alberta officials took the next step in their careers in 2017, as Kyle Kowalksi (Edmonton), Colin Stefanyk (Red Deer), and Jordan Lightbrown (Medicine Hat) were selected to attend Hockey Canada’s Level Six Officiating Seminar in Moncton, New Brunswick. There are only about 80 level 6 officials registered in Canada each season, making this a very select group of top officials from across Canada.
Leading our leaders
Hockey Alberta took coach development to a new level in 2017, bringing back successful events such as the Coach Conference, Coach Speaker Series, and Coach of the Month program, while adding new programs such as the WHL and AJHL Game Day Coach Series, and Coach Development Seminars.
The WHL and AJHL Game Day Coach Series took place in various Western Hockey League and Alberta Junior Hockey League cities and towns across the province on a game night. The coaches in attendance were treated to a seminar from Hockey Alberta, as well as the opportunity to hear from the home and away team’s coaches, and to watch the game.
In June, Hockey Alberta’s Development team and Regional Centre Consultants hosted four streams of local minor hockey groups together in Sylvan Lake for Coach Development Seminars, with a goal of educating on the best practices to deliver the game locally. The four streams included Development Directors, Skill Coaches, Hockey Alberta’s Facilitators, and the Regional Goaltending Leads.
Albertans get the call to The Hall
Photo credit: LA Media
Five outstanding individuals, and perhaps one of the most celebrated families in all of hockey comprised the 2017 Induction Class for the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame (AHHF).
Mel Davidson, Bill Hay, Tony Kollman, Perry Pearn, Glen Sather, and the entire Sutter family were enshrined in Alberta’s hockey history on Sunday night at the AHHF Awards Gala, held at the Coast Hotel in Canmore. Click here for the full story >
Former Edmonton Oiler Ryan Smyth and the 1984/85 NAIT Ooks were inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, while Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald, already a member of the AHHF, Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, and Hockey Hall of Fame, was inducted into the Canada Sports Hall of Fame.
The experience of a lifetime
Photo credit: LA Media
The participants were youths from Calgary, most of whom had never played golf or skated before, and it was a day none will ever forget.
The Hockey Alberta Foundation’s Every Kid Every Community program took on a "hands-on" approach in 2017, taking to the ice in Red Deer with the Central Alberta Refugee Effort (CARE) for a learn-to-skate program, helping to teach new Canadians the fundamentals of hockey.
In addition to the on-ice instruction, the Foundation also provided equipment and apparel to the CARE program for all participants.
"The power of sport is its ability to change lives"
The power of sport was at the forefront as Catriona Le May Doan delivered the keynote address to kick off Hockey Alberta’s 2017 Hockey Conference and Annual General Meeting in late September in Red Deer.
The two-time Olympic gold medalist, and Olympic bronze medalist, shared stories of her journey, and the path that took her to the highest level of success an athlete can achieve.
"Those medals represent about two-and-a-half minutes of a 23-year journey. To me, success is about that entire journey," Le May Doan said of her three Olympic medals, which she brought with her to pass around the crowd. "The reason I was successful was because I didn’t burn out mentally.
Le May Doan also stressed the importance of being a multi-sport athlete, and focused on several examples of successful multi-sport athletes.
The Greigs: making Alberta hockey history
While members of the Greig family are no strangers to hockey accolades, brother and sister Ridly and Dara can now say they’ve made Hockey Alberta history.
With Ridly skating for Team Alberta’s U16 team at the 2017 WHL Cup, and Dara (for the second year) playing for the U18 squad at the 2017 U18 Nationals, the pair became the first brother and sister to play for Team Alberta at the same time.
Kicking off the Road to Red Deer
The Road to Red Deer officially kicked off in November, as Carla MacLeod and Serge Lajoie were announced as the head coaches of the Alberta squads competing in hockey at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
MacLeod is the head coach for the Team Alberta U18 Female team, and Lajoie is the head coach for the Team Alberta U16 Male team. Both have previous experience in the Canada Winter Games and Team Alberta programs. Bobby Fox will join Lajoie as the U16 Male team’s associate coach.
Competition at the Canada Winter Games runs February 14-23, 2019 for the Male squad, and February 23-March 2 for the Female squad.
Team Alberta vs Canada’s National Women’s Team
As they prepared for the 2017 WHL Cup, Team Alberta’s U16 Male squad had the rare opportunity to play against Canada’s National Women’s Team in Calgary, as part of Team Canada’s "Road to Pyeongchang".
Team Alberta and Team Canada battled in a modified special teams game, just two days before the WHL Cup kicked off, with Alberta skating away with a 9-4 win.
Hockey Gives Back
Alberta’s hockey community is always at its best during the holiday season, and we’ve asked Minor Hockey Associations and teams from across Alberta to share their stories of giving back to the community with us.
This year, we saw an overwhelming influx of stories, with teams across the province working to make their season just as successful off the ice.
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].