by Curtis J Phillips
Was surprised that a few fans that I chatted with were surprised that the Keyano Huskies handily defeated the Fort McMurray Oil Barons 7-1 in their first-ever men’s hockey exhibition matchup this past Sunday at the Casman Centre.
In fact, it was the same score that I had predicted to a fan prior to the game who questioned the validity of the game with the Oil Barons only a few days away from hosting the 2015 Crescent Point Energy Western Canada Cup starting April 25-May 3, 2015.
Although the Huskies have only been in existence since 2012-2013, when they first joined the ACAC men’s hockey conference, this game was a long-time coming.
The simple fact is that ACAC hockey is one step up from AJHL calibre play while the same may be said that Canadian Interuniversity Sport hockey i.e. University of Alberta Golden Bears is one step up from ACAC hockey.
Playing in front of nearly 500 fans the Huskies were led by Dylan Burdick and Brandon Tidy with two goals each and singles by Kenny Murduff, Ben Kinshella and Ryan Sookro.
The Oil Barons, which entered the AJHL in 1981-1982, saw their lone goal come from the stick of Zack Wittenburg.
The big winner though was the Abasand Fire Victims Relief Fund with $3,223.25 raised from a pregame barbecue.
It was Fort McMurray Oil Barons General Manager and Head Coach Curtis Hunt that approached the Huskies about the exhibition game. A game in which clean hockey with no nasty hits or fights took place.
“First and foremost we were glad that Curtis Hunt reached out to us to take part in this charity event,” said Keyano Huskies men’s hockey head coach Nate Bedford. “It is a good indication that we are going to build a relationship with the Oil Barons.”
Bedford said he was not surprised with the final score: “I think it gives them (Junior A players) a better understanding that the ACAC is a pretty good league.
“Despite the score I think this game was a good tune up for the Oil Barons. We went into the game working hard against them and that is what they are going to see in the tournament.”
Of the Huskies gaining some possible new fans from the showing, “It was a great opportunity for Oil Barons fans to see our Keyano Huskies team close up. We play the same no matter what be it an exhibition game, preseason, regular season or post season, we work hard.”
Hopefully this will continue as an annual event with monies raised going to charity.
Coming up on 100 days until the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games August 7-16, 2105. If you wish to volunteer, buy tickets or find out more just visit the WCSG site at www.2015woodbuffalo.com.
This year’s games feature competitions in artistic gymnastics, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, canoeing/kayaking, cycling, golf, judo, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, triathlon, volleyball, wrestling.
Showing that there are no barriers in the world of sports, the British Columbia Special Olympics have qualified four of their swimmers to compete in Fort McMurray.
One of the big decisions for the WGSG is who will be the final torch bearer to light the caldron?
My picks, with the only restriction being that they participate or have participated in any of the sports to be held at the 2015 WGSC, would be: swimmer Mark Versfeld, judo’s Laurie Wiltshire, Liam DeSilva of soccer fame, cyclist Mical Dyck, baseball pitcher Joey Young, multi-sport runner Jason Loutitt, golfer Stuart Anderson, volleyball high flyer Alwyn Piche or Special Olympian Debbie Lebedynski just to name a few.
Catch you on the rebound.