By Justin Seward
The Southern Alberta Hockey Academy’s U18 male and female prep teams are entering the Christmas break with optimism after making positive strides in the first half of the season.
The male U18 Prep team sits tied for second in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League standings with a 15-4-0-3 record. Head coach Brayden Desjardins says the standing is a testament to the guys coming to work every day and being ready every night.
“It’s been really good,” said Desjardins.
“We’re a second-year program. So, I didn’t kind of expect to be doing this good. We’re tied for second place going into the break. So, we’re pretty proud of what we’ve done. We’ve had a really good season, we’ve had some really good players, we’ve had some guys play junior games this year which is really exciting for our program.”
The most effective aspect of the team’s game has been its speed.
“We’re a really good transition team when we’re playing well,” said Desjardins.
“We’re hard to handle when we counter the way we do and that’s kind of been the focus of our team. When we get the puck, we get going up the ice as soon as we can. It’s kind of been a staple in who we are as a team and guys have stuck to the game plan.”
Desjardins added measuring stick this far has been the team’s games against first-place Edge School.
“Edge is always a premier team in this league and to be 2-2 against those guys —they’ve beat us twice, we’ve beat them twice — they’re the best team in the league, so that’s been good,” said Desjardins.
“NAX (Northern Alberta Xtreme), we’ve played them three times. We beat them twice; we’ve lost once in overtime — so those are the two teams that are ahead of us. And then RINK Winnipeg; where we beat them once, they’ve beat us once. It’s nice to see we can play with anybody in this league.”
After playing only eight games all of last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Desjardins says it’s been good to start this season will a full slate of games.
“It’s good — like it’s been really good for the guys,” he said.
“Like last year we practised probably 250 times with no games. They were getting a little bored. So to have these guys, it’s easy for them to stay motivated — they’re hungry — it’s just been so much better.”
The season for the girls team has been good despite sitting in ninth place with a 4-7-0-0-1 record.
“Obviously it’s nice to be able to play some games with everything that’s kind of happened over the last couple of years,” said head coach Evan Vossen.
“So, yeah, it’s been good. We’ve been obviously working real hard getting back at it. It’s been a good experience I think for everybody so far.”
Vossen says the girls have been able to find their groove the last couple of showcase weekends. The strength of the team has been working hard and competing for a full 60 minutes.
“We’ve been in some close games and we’ve come back and won a couple,” he said.
“Those are all good characteristics and I think growth pieces for ourselves and that’s only going to benefit us as we move forward.”
SAHA’s female prep squad hosted NAX this past weekend for three games before breaking for the holidays.