For the first time in their team’s history, the Strathmore UFA Bisons are headed to the Telus Nationals Midget Triple A Hockey Championships. The Bisons were chosen at a training camp last September, the best players included 16-year-old Trygve Many Guns of the Siksika Nation. Along the road to the Telus National Cup, the Bisons won five series against the Calgary Flames midget team 2-0, Calgary Royals 3-0, Calgary Buffaloes, Edmonton CAC 3-2, and the Pacific Regional Championship series 2-0 against the Vancouver N.E. Chiefs. At the UBC Thunderbird Arena in Vancouver, I watched the Bisons sweep the N.E. Chiefs in two games by the scores of 4-2 and 5-0.
The Bisons will represent Alberta at the national midget hockey championships and head coach Dan Macdonald says he’s very optimistic that his team will deliver. “Alberta is usually in the medals along with Saskatchewan and Quebec, but it all depends on the year,” MacDonald said. “We have a legitimate shot at winning the nationals because these players deserve everything they are getting. I told them at the beginning of the season they’re just as good, if not better than other teams, and they can be champions!”
Coach MacDonald talked about their success against the Vancouver Chiefs in the Pacific Regionals. “We wanted to control the puck by pressuring their defence so they were hurried and would make mistakes. Also we wanted to check them throughout the two games when in possession of the puck and take it to the net to create chances,” The coach continued, “We move the puck quickly up the ice to play fast and confuse the opposition, we’ve done this all year and it gives us a greater chance of being in possession of the puck more time to make plays and create more scoring chances.” Leading the Bisons in playoff points are Barrett Sheen and Kyle Gordon, tied with 21 points, and Gary Haden with 20 points.
Jamie Jackson, Vancouver N.E. Chiefs head coach praised the Strathmore Bisons for their offensive pressure in both games, as well as their defence. “I would give a lot of of credit to Bisons’ defence and goaltending. We have been able to expose the weakness in a team’s defence all season,” coach Jackson said. “The size and skating ability of the team’s defence in combination with more size and speed on the back made it difficult for us to get speed in transition. Once we got below the Bisons’ goal line, we were able to sustain some offence and get the chances we were looking for.”
Coach Macloed talked about the only First Nations player on the Bisons, Trygve Many Guns of the Siksika Nation wearing number 13. “Trygve Many Guns is a power forward who is very good in the offensive zone. Offensively, he drives the net and with his size; he is a threat every time he’s on the ice. He creates offensive chances for his linemates by being hard on the puck, and he’s a very good shooter. His line is very effective at taking the puck to the net where Trygve excels.” First Nations Drum also spoke to the shy 6’3” forward. “I thought I played a good physical game and made sure to let Vancouver know that they can’t mess with us,” he said. “The first half of the final game was really tough, and we got lucky by having two of their goals disallowed.” Trygve said he was excited to get going to the Telus National Cup and will focus on being faster and getting places quicker. “My favourite player is Evegeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and if I had to choice in team I would like one day like to play for, it would be the Montreal Canadiens because they have a winning history and every year they have a chance at winning the cup, and it’s such a nice city.” Trygve will play with the Regina Pats in the WHL Junior Hockey next season and plans to go all the way to professional hockey.
Since 1974, the best minor hockey teams in the country have competed for Canada’s National Midget Championships. The list of Telus Cup alumni includes names like Sidney Crosby, Patrick Roy, Ron Francis, and Steve Yzerman. Coach MacDonald says this will be the Bisons’ first trip to the Telus Cup, and he know his players must play very hard because all the teams are champions from their leagues. “Since we’re representing Alberta, we know that Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Quebec are usually in the medals, so we have that history to defend.” The Strathmore UFA Bisons schedule includes Team Quebec (April 20), Quebec host team (April 21), Regina Pat Canadians (April 22), Team Atlantic (April 23), Toronto Young Nationals (April 24), and the Telus playoffs April 25-26.
TELUS CUP 2015 Update: The Strathmore Bisons narrowly missed the podium as they were defeated by the Regina Pat Canadians 6-3 on Sunday, April 26 in the bronze medal game. Trygve Many Guns had an assist in that medal match-up and played a solid game. Overall, Many Guns had 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in the National Midget Hockey Championships. Strathmore does have some consolation in being able to beat this years’ eventual Telus Cup Champions, the Toronto Young Nationals, 5-3 in the tournament’s preliminary round. Barrett Sheen and Gary Haden both led with 8 points for Strathmore.
The Toronto Young Nationals defeated Chateaguay 6-2 in the Telus Cup final, and Strathmore ended the tournament with a 3-4 win/loss record. Strathmore had a strong 4th place showing, making the Final Four. Although the last two games didn’t quite go their way, the team can be proud that out of 142 qualifying midget 3A teams across the country, they are among the best.