Strong season for minor midget AAA players

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Help team dominate recent tournament

Three local hockey players are finding success on the ice with the Red Deer North Star Chiefs minor midget AAA team.

Steven Bell, Jordan Saunders and Caleb Trotter all play on the team, contributing to the squad’s strong season and recent tournament win.

The Chiefs went 5-0 at an invitational minor midget AAA tournament in Lethbridge Jan. 19-21.

“That’s the best I’ve seen that we’ve ever played before this year,” said goalie Trotter. “Everyone was doing their job and everything was just working well.”

Trotter only let in four goals over three games. Teammate Bell tied for third in tournament scoring with seven points over five games, while Saunders got three points.

“We went strong,” said Saunders. The round-robin saw the Chiefs bag a 3-2 win over the Calgary Stampeders, a crushing 11-1 win over Moose Jaw Prairie Academy and a solid 8-1 win over the Calgary Canucks.

The semifinal saw the Leduc Oil Kings fall to the Chiefs 6-1. In the final, the Chiefs beat the host team, the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 3-1.

“We went in with high expectations to win it,” said Bell, who added his own scoring accomplishment was special to him.

Victory, especially over the Lethbridge team, was sweet in particular for the Olds players, Trotter said. The Olds teams they’ve played on previously have had tough luck against the Hurricanes.

“It was nice to beat them in their own tournament,” Trotter said.

The Chiefs have had a good season so far, with 18 wins, five losses and four ties on the board as of last week.

“It’s been one of the better records so far,” Bell said. Saunders said the goal is to go 25-0 the rest of the season.

The three 15-year-olds all hope to move forward in their hockey careers, with their eyes on making the major midget team in Red Deer next season.

It’s Bell’s and Saunders’ first time playing in Red Deer instead of on an Olds team. Trotter played for a Red Deer bantam AAA team last year.

“It’s definitely different,” Saunders said of playing this level of hockey. “It’s a lot faster.”

Playing for an elite team comes with its challenges — the boys have to balance two on-ice practices a week, a dryland practice, plus games and travel with their schoolwork and other obligations.

“You’ve got to use your time management; do your homework on the road, do your homework at school and get it done,” Bell said.

“It doesn’t leave a lot of time for homework and other activities, but it’s a sacrifice you have to make,” said Trotter.

Saunders said you do get used to the schedule and using time on the road to do homework.

“It’s a great experience,” he said of playing with the Chiefs.

“It’s a great experience.”
JORDAN SAUNDERS

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Victoria Paterson is a Calgary-based freelance writer.