Players gear up for Canada Winter Games

It’s been a busy few weeks for Hockey Alberta as the provincial organization recently announced both the under-16 boys and under-18 girls teams that will wear the Wild Rose colours at the 2011 Canada Winter Games this February in Halifax.

“This is an opportunity that very few hockey players get to experience,” said Hockey Alberta president Annie Orton.

“It’s a privilege to wear the Team Alberta jersey and represent our province. We know the players on both these teams will take great pride in this and represent Alberta with honour, class and good sportsmanship.”

The U16 boy’s team, which won bronze at the last Games in 2007, doesn’t feature any athletes from Central Alberta, but that doesn’t mean it lacks local flavour.

Red Deer’s Trevor Keeper will coach the squad, while Sylvan Lake’s Justin Fesyk will serve as director of operations.

“We’re very excited about this group of players,” said Keeper.

“We have a lot of speed up front, lots of size on the backend and two solid goaltenders, which is a combination we believe will give us the best chance of success against the top players of this age group from across the country.”

That skill and speed was on display recently at the Arena, when the U16’s posted a 9-2 exhibition win over Red Deer’s midget AAA Optimist Rebels.

The U18 girl’s team, meantime, features a couple of Central Albertans, as Sundre native Hannah Mousek and Innisfail’s Taryn Baumgardt both made the roster.

Both girls play midget AAA hockey with Red Deer’s Sutter Fund Chiefs, and will be looking to help the U18’s improve on their ninth place finish at the 2007 games.

“Each one of our players should be very proud for making Team Alberta,” said U18 head coach Howie Draper.

“We have a foundation of talent built around speed that will allow us to compete with the best of the best in female hockey.”

The Canada Winter Games, held every four years, will run Feb. 11-27 in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

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