Behind a dominating goalie performance and high-flying offence, Team South captured the 2017 Alberta Cup, culminated by a 5-1 win in the final.
Team South, who posted the top record in round robin play with two wins and a tie, played Team Northwest in the final Sunday. The teams met in the first game of the weekend and played to a 2-2 tie, so it was fitting they’d meet again in the finals.
After jumping to a 1-0 lead after the first period, South scored three goals in the second. Northwest added a goal late in the third but it wasn’t enough to kick a comeback. With an empty netter, South claimed the championship.
Jake Neighbours, a top prospect for the upcoming WHL Bantam Draft, had one goal and three points in the win, while Cole Tisdale stood on his head, turning aside 41 shots for the South enroute to being named player of the game.
South had a scare in the semifinals against Edmonton Yellow, winning 2-1 in a close game. Anson McMaster’s tally in the second period stood up as the winner. Northwest cruised through their semifinal, winning 8-2 over Calgary South led by three points from both Jace Isley and Kaden Reinders.
Jamie Steer, head coach of Team South, said bringing together players who are foes during the regular season can be tough, but finding that chemistry is key in this tournament.
“After several events as a coach in Hockey Alberta, I know 100 per cent it is not always the most talented team that wins it, it is the closest team. So although we knew we had arguably the best talent in the tournament on our team we needed them to bond as a team,” Steer said.
“We sacrificed systems meetings for team building events and we believe that was a huge factor in our success.”
Clearly, something clicked and Team South was supported by huge performances by many on the team.
“We had amazing goaltending from Cole (Tisdale) and Gage (Alexander) all tournament, not one soft goal and some huge saves,” Steer said.
“We had several star players that at some point took it upon themselves to make sure we had success – Kyle Crnkovic had a five-point game and Jake Neighbours had three points on the first three goals of the final.
“But the biggest thing was buy in. Our team rallied behind losing one of the top defenceman in Jake Sanderson Game 1, Ethan McKibbin who made the team as a forward dropped back and played defence to give us three strong pairings. We had contributions from every player and every line. We tried to keep shifts as short as possible and everyone was buying in to that.”
Steer won last year as a coach behind the bench for Team Calgary South, as well as a player three decades ago and said it’s big deal for all involved.
“I won this tournament 31 years ago as a player and I still remember it. I think these boys will remember this for sure, best-on-best in the province and to come in on top,” Steer said. “Speaking as a former player, you always remember your championship teams and these boys will not forget this event that is for sure.”
Peyton McKenzie and Connor McClennon of Team Northeast finished first in scoring with seven points in five games. McClennon also led the tournament with five goals.
The Alberta Cup is a tournament held every April for the top Bantam players in the province. Eight teams from different regions descend on Canmore for a few days of high intensity competition. The tournament is highly attended by scouts as the final look before the WHL Bantam Draft in early May.Back to Top
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