The U18 St. Paul Canadiens team may be disappointed in how their final game of the season ended up, but long-term, they know what they accomplished was a special feat.
After a terrific season, the Canadiens Tier II team took back a silver medal from Provincials, hosted in Westlock from March 31-April 3.
Team manager Gisele Langevin-Fontaine said at times it was a difficult season for the group, but found ways to persevere and win games, going through the regular season with a 17-7 record, good enough for second place in their division.
“All season we were missing kids due to work for other commitments. At that age, some play other sports. We have some in curling and volleyball or football and basketball,” she said.
“In that sense, it was a difficult season and a difficult battle, but our kids pulled it off. And they showed up when they needed to.”
To start March, the Canadiens squared off against the Kitscoty Pitbulls and got through with a pair of 5-3 and 6-4 victories, setting up a final against the top team in their division — Marwayne/Dewberry.
“Our kids played their best hockey games, I find in those those two playoff series. Heading into the Marwayne series, in my mind, I’m saying our kids have to play their game, because this can go either way. I was expecting close games. When Marwayne chose to come to us first, and we beat them 9-3, that was mind blowing, nobody expected that result in that game,” said Langevin-Fontaine.
“I bet you that was their best game all season. And then to go back to Marwayne a week later, because that was on the Sunday, we went back to Marwayne on Saturday, and we ended up winning in overtime.”
In the Provincial tournament, St. Paul took care of Kneehill by a score of 8-2, but lost in the second round-robin game to Edson 5-1. Facing off against Trails West, the Canadiens punched their ticket into the semi-finals with a 9-4 victory.
“Provincials was an awesome experience for the kids. We have kids that hadn’t made it there yet. It was great. We knew we had potential watching the other team play,” said Langevin-Fontaine.
In the early semi-final game Sunday, Parker Sabatier’s first period goal stood up unchallenged, as the Canadiens added another with just seconds remaining in regulation to win 2-0, queuing up a gold medal rematch against Edson.
However, it was not meant to be. Despite an early 2-0 lead, Edson chipped away in the 2nd and 3rd periods, eventually going up 3-2 in the final frame, and not relinquishing their edge.
St. Paul left Westlock with provincial hardware for their four aging-out players: Nicholas Siewiertoka, Julian Renauld, Damian Langevin Whitford and Evan Songer.
“It was a good experience. It was a sad loss, but a good experience and a good way to finish our season as we had booked a tournament in Devon, but they had to cancel it because they didn’t have enough teams. So we hadn’t been able to attend a tournament this season. Provincials was our team bonding tournament and they had a blast,” said Langevin-Fontaine.
“We had awesome parents, awesome coaching staff, awesome kids. It’s not too often you see where there’s not really any conflicts on the team.”