The U15 West Central Wildcats. Submitted photo

The U15 West Central Wildcats. Submitted photo

West Central Wildcats continue strong

With high registration numbers this season

With a focus on growth and skill development in a safe and fun environment, the West Central Wildcats are running a successful season with high registration numbers.

“The West Central Wildcats had great registration numbers coming into the 2021/2 season,” said Gregg Broks, manager of the WCW U15 team. “The girls on the West Central Wildcats teams come from an area that extends from Blackfalds in the east to O’Chiese in the west, Innisfail in the south and Rimbey in the north,” he added.

It wasn’t long ago that the Wildcats were struggling to field one team per division, said Broks, adding increased registrations this season allowed them to form two teams for the U11 and U13 age groups and larger teams for U15 and U18.

The younger teams are based in Bentley and the older teams are based in Eckville. “We are blessed with ample arenas in central Alberta, allowing these teams to each get multiple practices a week, in addition to the one or two games per weekend,” said Broks.

Next season looks promising to form two teams at the U11, U13 and U15 age groups, but the need for goaltenders may limit to one oversized team at some levels, said Broks.

“The organization has worked hard to build a pipeline for developing goaltenders. But our success has meant our top goalies earn a spot on the elite teams out of Red Deer, and we are back to square one developing new goalies from scratch. This situation occurred at the U15 level this season,” said Broks.

With 18 games under their belt, the U15 team is sitting near the top of the standings in the B division and has a great chance to win their way into the provincial tournament Mar. 24 to Mar. 27, said Broks.

In the Rocky Mountain Female Hockey League running from October to March, the Wildcats rivalled Cochrane, Cardston, Brooks, Airdrie, Okotoks Gold and Okotoks Green.

“We are always recruiting new players. With two teams in most divisions, we are able to tier players into skilled groups, where development occurs at a pace suitable to each player. This takes away the stigma of that ‘new to the game’ player joining the organization at 12, 14 or even 16 years of age,” said Broks. For registrations visit www.sylvanlakeminorhockey.ca/west-central-wildcats-female-hockey.

The success of the organization is not always judged by wins and losses, but by the quality of the energy in the dressing room, said Blair Morris, assistant coach with both U15 and U11B teams.

“These girls have fun and the atmosphere in the room and the sense of commitment is huge,” said Morris, adding, “This might not be elite hockey but the focus on development is still there.”

The U18 Wildcats will be competing against the Camrose Wildcats at the Border Paving Arena in Camrose Feb. 5. The next game for the U15 Wildcats is against the Lakeland Jaguars during their home tournament starting Feb. 4 at the Eckville Arena in Camrose.

The playoffs start on the weekend of Feb. 26 – Feb. 27, following end of regular season games. The playoffs winner earns a spot in the provincial tournaments held for U13 to U18 divisions.

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