After only four short minutes of having been on home ice Friday night, the West Central Trilliant Midget ‘AA’ Tigers were off to a strong start against the Calgary based CNHA Canucks after a quick wrist shot from Ryan Chambers with an assist from Brayden Bystrom to score an early first goal.
With three minutes left in the first, a second slick wrist rocket came from 15-year-old affiliate player for the Tigers, Hayden Clayton with an assist from Jacksyn Goodall to make the score an even 2-0 early in the game.
The Tigers stayed on top of the Canucks throughout the second period seeing full utilization of penalty minutes. The crowd watched as the Tigers fired six back-to-back shots on the opposing team’s goalie during a power play but were unable to land the third goal.
Their southern opponents struggled to answer back on the scoreboard. Instead the Canucks saw a streak of shots ricochet off the bar of the Tiger’s net unable to land anything behind Tiger’s goalie, Shae Herbert.
The closest attempt at a goal for the Canucks in the second period came with only a minute and thirty seconds left on the clock. A Canuck raced towards Herbert on a breakaway as the Tigers were short handed due to a penalty. Herbert didn’t sweat the heat coming at him, making a remarkable flying leap to snag the puck mid air.
Third period action saw strong puck cycling from the Tigers, landing them a third goal by Jacksyn Goodall with an assist from team captain Logan Neal. With two and a half minutes left in the third period, the Canucks pulled their goalie only to see the Tiger’s long bomb the puck into an empty net.
Alas the game was not a total shut out as Calgary landed a last minute goal with 55 seconds remaining to make the final score 4-1for the Tigers.
Tiger’s head coach Pat Garritty said he was extremely pleased with how the athletes played adding he felt the better team won tonight.
“All the Calgary teams are good – if you give them even an inch they’ll come after you on the ice,” said Garritty, adding a city of a million people has a much bigger pool of athletes to pull from. “So it’s really important that everyone plays hard on a shift – we got up on them early and that really deflated their sails.”
He added it says a great deal about the strength of the Sylvan Lake Minor Hockey program that they are able to compete and even conquer against teams from bigger cities.
“We are a puck possession team, we’re not turning it over and if we have the puck at our stick we have a chance to score,” saidGarritty on the strengths of the Tigers. “We’re deep up front, we have a lot of depth on our bench and most importantly we have great athletes on our team.”
“They’re good kids – they’re athletes and they’re winners.”
During Friday night’s game Garritty stated the team was hosting multiple 15-year-old affiliate players as a few of their older players were away.
“We have a good mix of athletes – when you can ice multiple fifteen year olds and be as competitive as we are that says something about your team and your program,” said Garritty.
The Tigers have eight regular season games remaining and are currently in first place in their league with Okotoks Oilers trailing by a few points. Garritty said he is confident in his team and is looking forward to seeing the Tigers continue to develop on and off the ice.
The Tigers are set to face off against their second seated Okotok’s opponents this Saturday, Jan. 30 on home ice at 5:45 p.m.