Not one, but two, Bentley Minor Hockey (BMH) teams qualified for provincial playoffs this season — the atom and the peewee Canucks.
The Bentley tier 3 atoms, coached by Jeremy Park with assistant coaches Troy Pollitt and Jody Millar, and manager Karen Jaffray, won 14 out of 18 out of their regular league games, only one point behind Castor and tied for second place with Innisfail.
The team of 15 boys and girls had a mix of nine first-year and six second-year players.
“Our atom team has had a very successful year,” stated Park. “We did win our zone playdowns, finishing first as zone 4 atom D champs and qualifying for the provincial tournament on March 14 to 17 in Consort.”
They had held a Bentley-area bottle drive to help with costs to attend provincials.
“We had a great time at provincials,” Park said. “We won one game and lost two but the kids had a memorable weekend regardless of the outcome. It was a great accomplishment to be our zones rep at provincials and we played some really good hockey.”
At their home tournament earlier in February against seven other teams, the Canucks narrowly lost out to Andrew in the final game.
In league playoffs, after beating Spruceview and Innisfail and advancing to the league championship final, all two-game total-points series, Bentley met Castor. The first game ended tied 7-7 meaning the second game would decide the champion.
“We jumped out to an early lead, and held onto it through the middle of the third period but Castor was able to battle back and tie the game with under five minutes left in the game. With just over one minute left, Bentley scored to put us in front 6-5 and we were able to hold on until the final buzzer,” explained Park.
Bentley was presented the league championship banner.
“It was a great way to end the season,” Park stated proudly. “We are the North Central Minor Hockey Association (NCMHA) Tier 3 (Atom) League Champs. We are very proud of the kid’s accomplishments this year, both individually and as a team.”
The Bentley peewee tier 3 team, coached by Brian Gerrits and Darren Gyori, with manager Nathalie Gyori, also had a great season, especially taking into consideration that every single player on the team was a first year peewee player. They finished with 17 wins, only one loss and two ties, placing first in the NCMHA tier 3 peewee regular season.
They become the 4 peewee C champions by playing against Blackfalds, Devon and Calmar.
“Every series was (supposed) to be a best of two games, however since we beat each team by more than 10 goals in the first game, we only ended up playing each team in one game, instead of two, to win the title,” explained Nathalie Gyori.
They had earned the chance to go on to provincials in Redwater for March 21 to 24.
“We lost to Elk Point and Valleyview but won against Sundre. The team played well and tried hard but unfortunately did not make it to the finals,” reported Gyori.
For some the hockey season is over. For others there is still spring hockey and later on summer hockey camps, but any way you slice it, Bentley Minor Hockey will be ready to go again in the fall.