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Leduc Wins Alberta Midget AAA Championship

By Neil Hilts on March 28, 2017

The Leduc Oil Kings had a magical playoff run to earn their first ever AMHL Championship, defeating the Foothills CFR Chemical Bisons 3-1 in the Finals. Leduc now heads to the Telus Cup, Canada’s Midget National Championship, in Prince George in April. (Courtesy of Leduc Oil Kings)

For the first time in franchise history, the Leduc Oil Kings have won the Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL), defeating the Foothills CFR Bisons 3-1.

After a regular season of finishing under .500 with 20 fewer points and 11 fewer wins than Foothills, Leduc went on an amazing run to become champions.

Leduc beat the MLAC Beverly Optimists 2-0 in the Division Quarter Finals, the St. Albert Tire Warehouse Raiders 3-2, then swept the North’s No. 1 Sherwood Park J. Ennis Kings in the Division Finals.

Foothills had an impressive run as well, beating the Calgary Flames 3-1, then besting the top team from the regular season, the Calgary Buffaloes 3-1 as well in the Division Finals.

In the Championship, Leduc took a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and only faltered once.

Game 1 saw the Oil Kings win 3-1 behind a goal and assist from Dillon Hamaliuk and Tyler Schendel thanks to an effective 2-5 powerplay.

Games 2 and 3 were closely contested, with both heading to double overtime. Leduc took the second game as well, the highest scoring game of the finals, winning 5-4. Both teams had a different goal scorer for each marker and no player had more than one point. With under three minutes left in the second extra frame, Tyler Smithies buried the puck to put his team up 2-0 in the series.

Foothills picked up their first win in Game 3, defeating the Oil Kings 4-3 in double overtime. Peyton Krebs had two assists in the win, while Ben Laidlaw made 26 saves in the win.

The Oil Kings clinched the series on home ice, winning Game 4 3-1.  Leduc had a goal in each period, with Trysten Brookman potting the winner in the second and Hamaliuk adding an insurance marker with four minutes remaining in the third. Ryan Straschnitzki had two helpers while Easton Hesse had 22 saves.

Foothills fell in the Finals for consecutive years, but won it two years ago, making it an impressive run of getting to the championship for three straight campaigns.

This could be the final time the Bisons play in Strathmore, but unfortunately the team couldn’t end on a high note. Hockey Alberta is reevaluating the draw area for Midget players around Calgary and may divide the Bisons between Airdrie and Okotoks, leaving Strathmore without a team.

Schendel and Hamaliuk led the playoffs in scoring with 12 points each, tying Foothills’ Krebs. Schendel’s eight goals were tops as well.

Hamaliuk was a sixth round draft choice of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds in 2015 and played 17 games with them this year before heading back to Leduc for the end of the season. Schendel had some time with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks this year and likely played himself into a roster spot for next season.

While the winner of the AMHL normally plays in the Pacific Region Finals against the winner of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League for a spot in the TELUS Cup, this year Leduc is headed right to the National Championship. Prince George, the host of the TELUS Cup at the end of April, won the BCMML, giving Leduc time off before the big tournament.

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By Neil Hilts| March 28, 2017
Categories:  Minor Hockey
Keywords:  AB Minor Hockey

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