The Sylvan Agencies Atom AA Lakers are currently in Bonnyville and playing in the Alberta Provincial Championship games.
They are the only team from Sylvan Lake who made it to the provincial championships this season.
Instead of looking at themselves as the only team going to the provincials, they rejoice and are happy to have been able to get this far said head coach Zenon Komarniski.
It is tough to make it to the championships and for these nine and 10-year-old athletes it can be a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It’s pretty tough and pretty special if you do get there,” Komarniski said.
The players are no doubt thrilled to be going to the provincial games. All season long they have been preparing to go as far as they can go.
Last weekend the team wrapped up their league games and ended up winning the Tier 1 Championship.
“That was a pretty big boost for the kids,” Komarniski said. “To make it to provincials is a pretty big deal. I don’t think the kids really get it until later on in life when they may realize how special it was.”
So how is Komarniski getting the players geared up to play in the big games? Through game play and keeping the players excited.
“Emotionally when you get there you want to keep them charged up,” Komarniski said. “The biggest thing is over the last month as a team you’re progressing upward both on the ice and off the ice as well.”
Komarniski reinforces how awesome the team is doing and how these opportunities come when everyone plays well together.
“Not everyone makes it and we let them know that. You have to work hard and keep focused and come with a positive attitude,” he said. “You have to keep it realistic for the boys but exciting at the same time.”
Komarniski said he thinks the parents are far more pumped because they understand what it means to make it to the provincials.
“You hear a lot of that from the parents how exciting it is,” he said. “For the kids it’s just another day at the rink and going out and having fun.”
Komarniski said at the beginning of the season he knew he was coaching a very special and talented group of young athletes. His quest then became to see if they could be pulled together as a team and teach them the essential skills that would take them to the next level.
This is precisely what happened and Komarniski said the players responded well to what he and the other coaches had to offer them.
“We are exactly where we were hoping to be and it’s pretty awesome,” he said.
He said what really pulled his team was consistently promoting teamwork.
“You really have to promote a team concept that’s right from attitude to playing on the ice. That’s the biggest thing,” he explained.
This was done through drills, chalkboard talk, stressing concepts between periods.
He explained the team has three very balanced lines and everyone plays strong games.
“Our attitude right from the get go was for everyone to progress,” Komarniski said. “Everyone has the same confidence level and the same experience so you’re that much better off.”
Even with being a strong team they have faced losses during the season.
Komarniski said the team started off really strong but nearing the end of the season other teams caught up to them and in the last three weeks the team lost games.
He added it ended up working to the team’s advantage.
“It grounds the team and lets them know that you have to work for it – you can’t just coast by and think you’re going to blow every team out,” he said. “There were losses that came at the exact time they needed too.
“You have to work hard every game. You can’t take a game off or a period off and think you’re always going to win.”
*See next week’s Sylvan Lake News for details on how the Lakers landed during their trip to provincials and congratulations from the Sylvan Lake News staff on a well played regular season*