Story and photo courtesy of Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News. For in-depth local sports coverage, please visit www.medicinehatnews.com
The South East Athletic Club Tigers closed the book on their 46th annual Hockey Hounds Major Bantam Tournament with a pair of victories at the Kinplex this weekend.
After finishing third in their group with 1-2 record, the Tigers dominated consolation play with a 3-0 victory over the Churchill Warriors Saturday and a 6-1 win over the Balgonie Prairie Storm Sunday morning to finish ninth at the 16-team tournament.
“It was really good,” said Tigers goaltender Bodee Weiss. “I think we have a really well put together team. The coaches are doing good, everyone is working together, I think we’re really starting to become a team.”
Weiss was named SEAC’s most valuable player at the tournament after a standout performance between the pipes. The 14-year-old Hatter says it meant a lot to earn the accolade, especially considering it came with a congratulatory text message from Los Angeles Kings head coach Willie Desjardins.
“That was pretty exciting,” said Weiss. “I just feel really honoured to be selected for that and thankful for Bobby Fox (Medicine Hat Tigers director of player personnel), who chose me.”
SEAC generated their success through scoring depth and stingy defence. The Tigers scored 21 times over the weekend while allowing just eight goals, but the truly telling statistic was found on the shot clock. Over five games, SEAC threw 191 pucks at opposing goaltenders while limiting opponents to a measly 103.
“A couple times I was surprised myself, when I looked up at the clock and saw the shots were 33-12,” said Cubs head coach Jason Bartram. “But that’s hard work, that’s guys buying in. We believe that if we can get everybody doing that rolling through the remainder of the year we’re going to be tough.”
The Tigers were led to victory in Sunday’s finale against Balgonie by goals from six different skaters. Matthew MacPherson opened the scoring in the first, then Josh Drefs struck to take back the lead late in the frame after Matthew Perkins pushed back for Balgonie. SEAC followed it up with four more unanswered goals from Denyn Smith, Vann Yuhas, Tyler Broesky and Dawson Seitz.
“The biggest thing is we’re getting scoring from other lines,” said Bartram, adding the team’s grit line of MacPherson, Drefs and Smith rose to the occasion over the weekend. “That line there was brought in to kind of be a crash-and-bang line and a shutdown line, and we ended up starting them in the last two games because they set the tone for us right away of how we want to play. They did a fantastic job all weekend.”
Weiss and Kaiden Morin shared the win with nine and eight saves, respectively. Kenneth Marquart took the loss for Balgonie on 42 saves.
“They always give us a chance to win,” said Bartram. “They both work hard, they’re both competitive and want to win.”
Bartram added this weekend’s strong finish will send the Tigers back into the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League season with a fresh boost of confidence. The Tigers current sit second the Ram South Division with a 7-4-2 record.
“I thought we had an excellent weekend. It felt like we outplayed everybody that we played,” said Bartram. “I’m proud of our guys, the effort we got out of our guys, and we’re in a good spot moving forward next weekend.”