It was certainly a memorable night for the Midget ‘AA’ West Central Trilliant Tigers on Saturday at the NexSource Centre.
Ten Tigers graduated from Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey and were recognized in a pre-game ceremony. The Tigers were also victorious in winning their last regular season home game against the Central Alberta Selects on the same evening.
The graduates included Graydon Larson, Carter Boothe, Logan Neal, Ryan Chambers, Bradyn Adams, Braden Bystrom, Wyatt Fleming, Kolton Muyres, Kyle Cornford and Kade Garritty.
Tigers alumni who were there for the ceremony included Darcy Rosie, Tanner Robley, Mike Tubbs, Joe Vandermeer, Justin Van Parys, Kurtis Ross, Ty Clay,Marty Jickling and Chad Allan, who gave the players of 2016 a special Tigers gift and congratulated the graduates.
It was no doubt a great feeling to receive recognition from previous Tigers alumni.
The bleachers were full of family and friends. This ceremony was not something to miss out on.
Many of the graduating Tigers said they would miss playing on the team as well as miss the camaraderie they have had while working with one another.
After the ceremony it was time to hit the ice and the success they saw in the game was hard earned.
Both the Selects and Tigers started out strong. Each scored two goals in the first period.
In the second period the score ended in a 3-2 in favour for the Selects. In the third period everyone held their breath in hopes the Tigers would kick back a win.
At 13 minutes and nine seconds Tiger Kyle Cornford scored, assisted by Ryan Chambers.
Taking advantage of a power play Chambers scored another goal, assisted by Jacksyn Goodall and Jerryd Wold at 12 minutes and 46 seconds.
The Tigers were over the moon as they triumphed on home ice. They were back in the game after the two quick goals and were now showing a heightened sense of urgency in their plays.
But it didn’t stop there as at 10 minutes and 30 seconds Cornford scored again, assisted by Chambers and Logan Neal. This trio then took advantage of another power play and scored again at two minutes and 21 seconds.
The final score for the last regular home season game was 6-3 for the Tigers.
It was a great third period where the Tigers showed their abilities to turn the game around.
Tigers head coach Pat Garritty said in some games it takes longer than normal for things to start going in the players’ way.
“You have to understand it may take longer than normal for things to start going your way,” Garritty said. “As a player you can control what you can control. You can’t worry about the other things.”
During the third period he said the players were moving their feet, engaged in the play, playing the systems, and showing they cared as they always do.
Garritty explained the Tigers always show their drive to win the game. He added it seems like they never accept losing as an option. They keep playing until the sound of the third period’s final buzzer goes off.
“It took a little longer to get there than we thought, but we played with a different sense of urgency in the third period,” Garritty said. “Good teams have the ability to do that and we’re very lucky to have that ability. I thought we finished strong.”
Winning the game was the perfect ending to the night.
This recognition is another addition that will build onto the Tigers tradition that has been taking place since the early 1980s.
“When you have that many kids that get recognized for their efforts and their contributions to the program, it starts off very special,” Garritty said. “It can be a bit of a distraction but it doesn’t take away from how special the event is.”
The Tigers are now very close to playoffs, meaning it is crunch time.
To prepare for the playoffs the Tigers will do what they are known to do – work hard and prepare.
“We’re going to take it one game at a time and do the things we need to do to put us into a position to be successful come the playoff tournament,”Garritty said.
“We have a great group of kids here, the coaching staff is top notch and the training staff is the best in the league,” he added.