It wasn’t their most dominant win of the season, by any stretch, but a win is a win and the Bantam ‘A’ Thunder got it done last Tuesday, beating the Westlock Warriors for the Interlock Tier I championship.
Playing their eighth game in 12 days, undermanned, bruised and tired, the Thunder somehow managed to hold off a quick and talented Westlock squad in Game 2 of the series, winning 3 – 2 on home ice.
“We did not have a very pretty game, offensively,” says head coach Richard Chemago. “(But) I was really impressed by the amount of good scoring chances they (Westlock) did not get. They (Slave Lake) played very well defensively.”
The game happened on a Tuesday night a week later than originally scheduled, due to a power failure at the rink in Slave Lake on Mar. 14. Game 1 was played the night before that in Westlock, with Slave Lake getting a 1 – 0 victory over the top regular season team. In between, both teams played in provincial championship tournaments.
The Warriors were the better team in the first period, with the clear advantage in puck possession and scoring chances. But it was tied 1 – 1 after one, with Ethan Wedmid scoring for Slave Lake, from Malakie Muskwa.
Chemago says his team played a better second period; on the scoreboard, the result was the same – a goal apiece. Slave Lake’s was by Landon Robinson, from William Chemago and Matthew LaFrance.
That set up an intense third period. Advantage Slave Lake, when Ethan Syslak chipped one over the shoulder of Warriors’ goalie John Zeise from a bad angle. From then on it was a case of Westlock attacking and Slave Lake resisting. Already missing two players, the Thunder went down to nine skaters when Robinson was sent off for checking from behind.
It was a gutty performance, says the coach. He made special mention of a couple of players. Ethan Wedmid, one of only three defencemen for the Thunder, “had a stellar defensive game.” Aiden Blocka took a shot off his knee and was “rolling around behind the bench,” in pain, Chemago says. He walked it off, missed just one shift and finished the game.
Afterwards he could hardly bend the knee, says the coach.
That’s all she wrote for the season. It was 41 games in total, Chemago says; 33 of those were wins, with only five losses and two ties.
Looking ahead, seven of the 12 team members will be moving up to the Midget age category next season, which bodes well for that program if they stick around.