WESTLOCK – Brett Wold continues to show that he’s one of the brightest young hockey coaches in Alberta as he recently guided the U18 ‘AAA’ Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs to the Alberta Female Hockey League (AFHL) Provincial Championship, a title that has qualified them for the Pacific Regional Championships in their bid to play for a national title.
The third-seeded Chiefs, who qualified for provincials by previously defeating Lloydminster in a best-of-three playoff series, scored a thrilling 4-3 shootout win over the Calgary Fire in the gold-medal final played at Edmonton’s Bill Hunter Arena March 26. At provincials, the Chiefs went 2-1 with wins over St. Albert and Edmonton and a 5-1 loss to Calgary, whose only defeat was to the Chiefs in the final.
Wold, a Westlock native who’s a hockey instructor at the Notre Dame Hockey Academy in Red Deer, has spent the last four years as the head coach of the Chiefs and won the AHFL’s coach of the year award last season.
The soon-to-be 33-year-old, who’s a married father of two, said he’s been to 13 provincials previously, but was never able to score a gold medal and earned three silver medals as a player — for the Chiefs, who won 21 games this past season, it’s been more than a decade since they’ve hoisted the provincial championship trophy.
“I’m still a little in shock to be honest,” said Wold March 30. “We were down 2-0 in the middle of the second period, so it was a pretty crazy comeback. Honestly, just before practice yesterday, I told the girls that feeling that they have now is why they went through all those tough practices and workouts.”
On a personal level, Wold said it was awesome that his wife Julie, daughter Celine and son Price, as well as his mom and dad, Tina and Randy, were in the stands and able to celebrate with him. Wold played his minor hockey in Westlock, then spent a season with the NCAA Div. 3 for the University of Wisconsin-Superior Yellowjackets and a year with the Red Deer College Kings in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference, where he earned a Bachelors of Education degree.
“Having my family in the stands was just fantastic and it was cool that my parents were able to come watch, too. It was a special weekend,” he said.
More hockey to be played
The Chiefs have little time to savour their victory and will now look to qualify for the 2023 Esso Cup, Canada's Women's U18 National Club Championship, which runs April 23-29 in Prince Albert, Sask.
To get there the club will need to defeat the Fraser Valley Rush, the top team in B.C., in the best-of-three Pacific Regional Championship which goes April 7-9 in Red Deer. Wold knows it will be a huge challenge as the Rush come in as the top-ranked team in the nation, while the Chiefs head in ranked 10th.
“We told the girls that our job isn’t done just yet. We know it’s going to be a tough weekend for sure, but we’ve just shown that when we play hard and our style of game, we can beat anybody,” he said. “We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished but we want to keep playing.”
Winter Games success
Wold recently returned from coaching the Team Alberta U18 female hockey team at the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island which ran Feb. 18 to March 5 — the female hockey tournament ran Feb. 27 to March 5.
At that event the club went 1-2 in the round robin, then fell 3-0 in the quarterfinal to Quebec, but rebounded with a 6-2 win over Saskatchewan in their final game to finish in fifth place. B.C. went on to defeat Nova Scotia in the gold-medal game, while Ontario took bronze with a 3-1 win over Quebec.
Wold’s commitment to Team Alberta began last summer after he was announced as head coach by Hockey Alberta. The club’s first camp ran July 12-17, 2022, in Red Deer and included the Top 68 players in the province, who were paired down to 30 before final cuts last fall.
“It was an unbelievable experience, we had a great tournament. We wish we could have competed for a medal and that’s always the goal, but at the end of the day it was just a top-notch experience,” Wold said.
“I learned a ton as a coach throughout the process which really helped me grow as well. It’s something I’ll never forget.”