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U18-2 Warriors win Gord Smith Memorial Tournament title

Club caps 4-0 weekend with 5-4 victory over Wainwright in Sunday-afternoon final
WES - Midget Warriors 2 IMG_0872 copy
U18-2 Warriors captain Dylan Biddiscombe looked to jam the puck past the Onoway Eagles goalie during the club’s opening 8-4 win at the 16th annual Gord Smith Memorial Tournament Nov. 26 at the Rotary Spirit Centre. Following a 3-0 round-robin record, the club beat Wainwright 5-4 in the Sunday-afternoon final.

WESTLOCK - Westlock’s U18-2 Warriors had a perfect weekend, punctuated by a dramatic 5-4 triumph over Wainwright in the Nov. 28 final of the 16th annual Gord Smith Memorial Hockey Tournament.

The Sunday-afternoon win capped a 4-0 run for the club at the Rotary Spirit Centre which included an 8-4 Friday-night dismantling of Onoway and a 5-2 pounding of Wainwright the next morning. The Warriors wrapped round-robin play Saturday night at the four-team event with a dominant 9-3 drubbing of Wetaskwin.

Fans were on the edge of their seats in the final as the teams were tied 3-3 with just under four minutes to play. But as was the story all weekend, the Warriors high-powered offence responded with a pair of goals to secure the tourney title — Wainwright did manage to get within a goal with two ticks left on the clock.

“It was a really good weekend. There’s some stuff we’ve been working on in practice and they put it to the test this weekend and obviously it worked for us,” said head coach Warren Wylie, who also gave a shout-out to the parents who “did an awesome job” organizing the event.

Wylie said he was not only proud of his club’s performance on the ice, but their community spirit which would have made the tournament’s namesake proud. Before taking to the ice in the final, the Warriors dropped off food bank donations to the fire department from the tournament teams who participated in the “Shut Out Hunger” campaign. Gord Smith was a father of four who always stressed “fair and equal play” and was one of the original organizers of the annual midget hockey tournament. His “keen love” of amateur athletics has been well documented as a coach and manager for a variety of Westlock-area baseball and hockey teams.

League-wise the U18-2 Warriors have had some struggles to start the year, but will certainly use this result to build on.

“We’ve played some good games and we’ve struggled in a few. But our tiering is done now and I think we’re going to have a good year,” Wylie concluded.

Senior Warriors still searching for first win

Meanwhile, the Westlock Senior Warriors remain in the basement of the North Central Alberta Hockey League at 0-4-0-1 and are still searching for their first win of 2021/2022.

In Red Deer Nov. 27 to face the Rustlers, the Warriors came out on the wrong end of an 8-6 shootout. After falling behind 2-0 in the first, the Warriors came back with three-straight in the second period before the Rustlers responded with two goals in an 80-second stretch to reclaim a one-goal advantage. The Warriors managed to tie the game early in the third, but the Rustlers responded less than a minute later, then took a 6-4 lead only 44 seconds later. The clubs continued to trade goals and while the Warriors were able to pull within one twice in the last 16 minutes, they couldn’t come all the way back.

The Warriors remain on the road this coming weekend to face the Lacombe Generals Dec. 2, then are home for two-straight weekends. Devon comes to town Dec. 11, while Red Deer will be at the RSC for a Dec. 17 tilt.

George Blais,

George Blais

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