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The Wetaskiwin Icemen are champions once again.

The local Junior B lads captured the Capital Junior Hockey League title after sweeping the Beverly Warriors aside with a 5-2 win last Wednesday night.

Prior to puck drop, league officials doled out individual awards to several Icemen. Shaye Sommerfeld earned rookie of the year as he led all rookies in scoring with 24 goals and 24 assists. The goaltenders award was shared by the Wetaskiwin Icemen’s Joey Desrosiers and Dahlin Supernault, and Beverly Warriors’ Chase Mudryk and Adam Holowach, as both teams allowed 100 goals against during the season. Captain Kona Jackson earned first all star team honours.

The pre-game awards may have provided a little confidence boost, as Sommerfeld scored twice in the game and Desrosiers made three huge breakaway saves in the third period.

“(Shaye) was dynamite and I’m sure the (awards) played a little bit into the mental part of the game,” said head coach Rob Hartnell.

“Joey, in these playoffs, was on a mission and every night he was our best player. When your goalie is that kind of player, you’re going to be in good shape.”

Midget affiliate Adam Krause and brothers Reid and Bryn Pankewicz also scored in the final, while the team’s penalty killing unit saw a lot plenty of ice time, killing off seven of eight Warriors power plays.

More than anything though, Hartnell feels home ice advantage was the decisive factor for the Icemen.

“We have the best fans in the league, bar none, no other team comes even close,” he said. 

For local products and brothers Lane and Austin Lightning, bringing a second straight championship trophy home for the fans was 

“It’s great to be part of history. Wetaskiwin had never won in 25 years until last season,” said Lane.

“Now, to be a part of back-to-back wins, it’s huge. When we’re out together and people come up and shake our hands and the kids look up to you, it’s great.”

The brothers only played together on the same team on one previous occasion, winning midget provincial gold. Now, playing together at the Junior B level and winning, Lane was happy to pass the league trophy to his younger brother for a victory skate around the rink.

“It’s really special, not a lot of people get to experience that,” said Lane.

“It’s stressful sometimes though,” joked Austin, about skating with his brother. “You always want to one-up each other.”

That competitive attitude was not exclusive to the Lightnings. On an Iceman squad blessed with a deep bench, getting ice time was never a guarantee.

“The hardest part of the season was just making the line-up,” said Austin. “Just waiting for that text to see if you’re in the line-up, it’s stressful... but you’ve just got to work hard. We’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of skill."

With the league final barely behind them, the Icemen are off to Fort St. John, B.C. to compete in Hockey Alberta Junior B provincials March 29 to April 1.

The Icemen will have to continue to play their best hockey if they want to improve on their bronze medal performances from the last two provincial appearances.

“I’m excited for my first Junior B provincials,” said Austin. “It will be interesting to see where our skill level is compared with the top teams from other leagues. I think we’re going to be really competitive.”

“It’s fun to be playing, not only with (my) brother, but also with a lot of the same guys (I) grew up playing minor hockey with,” added Lane.

“It’s special and we’re ready to make more history for Wetaskiwin.”

Sarah O. Swenson/Wetaskiwin Times 

2018

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