By GORDON ANDERSON
There’s no holiday break the for the local teenage hockey lads.
The Grande Peace Athletic Club (GPAC) Ernie's Sports Experts AAA Midget Storm will be in Calgary this week for the annual Mac’s AAA Midget Hockey Tournament.
There are 25 teams represented at this year’s version of the tournament—with a pair on non-Canadian teams involved—in the Chicago Mission and AK Bars Academy from Kazan, Russia.
Thirteen teams are from the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) squads, with six from Saskatchewan and four from B.C.
“It’s a huge thing (to be playing in the Mac’s), especially for a lot of the third-year guys,” 17-year-old Storm defenceman Austyn Hansen said. “It’s a huge exposure tournament for us. We were accepted last year but we didn’t end up going. We’re all excited to go (this year).”
Rate the chances
The Storm open the tournament on Boxing Day when they face the Calgary Northstars at the Max Bell Arena.
“I think we have a really good chance against (anyone in our) pool,” Storm defender Clayton Brown said. “We have the Northstars, who we’ve played twice and beaten. It will be exciting to play the (other) teams to give us a different challenge, playing different teams in different leagues.”
Storm assistant coach Jordan McTaggart wasn’t stepping out on a flimsy limb to make any predictions on how the squad would in the round-robin—at least not like his teenage defenseman.
McTaggart chose the safe road, preferring to focus on buzz words like “momentum” and “competing.”
“I think, if they play hard, they’re going to put themselves in a good spot to be competing in games and that’s all you can ask for,” McTaggart said. “(We’re just trying) to keep the good momentum going from the regular season.”
In the last couple of seasons, the club hasn’t spent much time, if at all, playing teams outside the Alberta Midget Hockey League. At least, in games of any serious consequence.
As previously mentioned, there are a 13 teams from the AMHL in the seven-day tournament—including north division foes like the Lloydminster Bobcats, St. Albert Raiders and the Sherwood Park Kings.
Brown is pleased he’s not seeing those teams, at least not in the round-robin.
“I didn’t want to go there and play the same teams we play every year,” Brown said. “It’s definitely cool to play different teams.”
The Storm will take on the Saskatoon Contacts in the second game of the round-robin at Father David Bauer on Dec. 27.
The third game of the round-robin has the Storm facing off against the Vancouver NE Chiefs at Father David Bauer Arena on Dec. 28.
The fourth and final game of the round-robin will be a Dec. 30 encounter at the Flames Community Arena Blue against the Beardy’s Blackhawks, another squad out of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget League.