Mac’s Midget AAA hockey action this week

A couple of Red Deer teams are in Calgary this week looking to measure themselves against some of the best midget AAA hockey teams from North America and overseas.

The 33rd annual Mac’s Midget AAA Hockey Tournament kicked off on Boxing Day, with 40 boys and girls teams taking part, including squads from Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, Manitoba, California, Carolina, and Russia.

The focus of this year’s tournament in “community” and all feature games will have Pee Wee shootouts in the intermissions.

The All-Star game, meantime, will feature coaches from each host associations Bantam feeder teams.

“As a tournament, we recognize that the strength of this tournament is the support we receive from the community,” said Tournament chairman Neil Robertson in an interview posted on the official Mac’s Tournament website.

“We are working with our stakeholders to bring the Mac’s experience back to the community, and provide more grassroots recognition for this tournament.”

Red Deer’s midget AAA Optimist Rebels played their first game Monday against an opponent that Central Alberta hockey fans are well familiar with, the Prince Albert Mintos, skating to a 0-0 tie with the team that beat the Rebels in double overtime in the final of the 2007 TELUS Cup, held that year in Red Deer.

The Optimist Rebels were back in action yesterday against the UFA Bisons, and they play the Winnipeg Wild before wrapping up the round-robin portion of the tournament against the Valley West Hawks tomorrow morning.

The midget AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs girl’s team, meantime, opened play on Boxing Day against Regina, with Ashley DeGraf and Jade Petrie scoring in a 2-1 win over the Rebels.

The girls were back on the ice yesterday, taking on the Thompson-Okanagan Rockets (results unavailable by press time), and they wrap up the round robin with games against the Westman Wildcats (Wednesday) and the Calgary Bruins (Thursday).

The quarter-finals kick off Friday with the finals, which will be held at the Pengrowth Saddledome, set for Saturday.