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Canmore minor hockey roundup: clutch goal wins banner for U11 Eagles

“I don’t think that group of kids could have been more excited than when the goal went in and the clock ran down,” said Purdue.
Canmore's U11 RHL with their league championship banner after winning 7-6 against the Okotoks Oilers. SUBMITTED PHOTO

CANMORE – The final horn has sounded for the minor hockey season in Canmore with a shiny new banner and months worth of new development for youth players.

Taking the season by storm were the U11 Canmore Eagles Minor Hockey team, with only one loss and a tie in 22 games in the regular season, en route to winning the Mountain League Championship banner.

“We were pretty unbeatable from the start of the season," said Dustin Purdue, head coach of the U11 team. “We had some adversity with injuries and stuff, but the kids persevered and got us through it."

Tied 6-6 in Game 2 of the best-of-three playoffs against Airdrie C, Eagles’ sniper Parks Heal was absolutely clutch when he scored a beauty with less than 30 seconds left on the clock to secure the banner. The impressive goal was a hat trick for Heal.

“I don’t think that group of kids could have been more excited than when the goal went in and the clock ran down,” said Purdue.

More Canmore teams played in higher tiers, which led to “great competition all season long.”

“It wasn’t like we had teams running away and winning a lot of banners, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t successful,” said Micheal Hay, president of Canmore Minor Hockey Association (CMHA).

“What was successful, and what we’re here to do is develop young athletes. So, our development this year was fantastic.”

New this year was video review where players and coaches were able to watch back games and break down the game play. Players were also able to take advantage of one-on-one clinics to further advance on-ice skills.

“Those individual clinics and those additional clinics beyond practices, they were all full,” said Hay. “They were like 100 per cent attended and it was great to see because you got players that just want to get better.”

For the first time in a few years, CMHA saw the return of an all-girls team in the U7 league as part of their Intro to Hockey model.

“With the resurgence of the PWHL, there’s this growing wave right now of making sure that we have a very strong female program. It was really exciting and a lot of happy people to see it,” said Hay. “A lot of happy faces on the ice.”

Three Canmore players - Chase Kjemhus, Kingston Cuell and Lukas Boruta - were a part of Airdrie Havoc and went on to win the U16AA league championship after beating the Okotoks Oilers 2-0 in a best-of-three series. At provincials, however, they lost in the bronze medal game.

“They won the first 12 games in the season,” said proud hockey dad Sean Kjemhus. "That’s always a good start. I don’t know if that was a league record, but that was a great start to the year.”

The Airdrie team is comprised of players from areas such as Canmore, Cochrane, Mînî Thnî, Cremona and Drumheller, among others.

Boruta played forward for the team while Kjemhus was defending and Cuell was holding down the net.

“Lukas, he’s definitely more of a throwback player, hard hitting, strong player. Chase is a smooth skating, good puck moving defenceman. Kingston’s a calm and steady goaltending presence,” said Kjemhus.

Moving into the next season, teams in Canmore are looking to continue development in the highest tiers possible.

“We are looking to really, really focus on continuing to develop players and to get players to play at a higher tier,” said Hay.

“We’d like to see what next year brings, and it’s our hope that it brings better results because they’ve got the experience now and they understand it’s a little bit different of a game when you start playing with those higher tiers. So, we’re excited for that.”

Hay praised the community on behalf of CMHA for the support throughout the season.

“We want to thank the village that it takes to run hockey in the valley. We have 300 players, and it probably takes us 600 volunteers. But it’s really cool to see the community come together and support our kids playing the game,” he said.

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