The team that won gold recently at the US National Inline Hockey Championships has a bit of a Central Alberta flavour.
Jason Stephens, who calls the shots as the head coach and general manager of the Sylvan Lake Admirals senior men’s AAA hockey club, was behind the bench for Team Alberta at the tournament, which was held earlier last month in Chicago.
“We had a great experience with the group of kids and staff we had in Chicago,” said Stephens, who was joined on the bench by his father Ted, who also serves as president of the Admirals.
“From the day we got to Chicago and getting the kids to Wrigley Field for a ball game to the final day, we had a group that bought in to our systems and they carried themselves in a way that made me, as a coach, proud to be a part of this team.”
Team Alberta, put together by Hockey Alberta’s Brian Scott and included some of the top 1993 and 1994 born players in the province, opened play with a 6-1 win over Missouri.
The boys followed that up with a 5-5 tie against Illinois.
Game three saw Alberta take on North Carolina and pull out a thrilling 1-0 win, before the team closed out the round robin with a 5-1 win over New York.
That set up a semi-final match up against New Jersey, and Stephens’ “defense-first” system of play resulted in a 5-1 win for Alberta.
The final saw Alberta and North Carolina go at it again, with the Canadians scoring an early second half goal only to have the Americans tie the game at 1-1 with just 12 seconds left.
With just 0.2 seconds remaining in overtime, Red Deer’s Tanner Dunkle scored to give Alberta their first gold medal in Team Alberta history in the USA.
“I’m very proud to bring home Alberta’s first gold medal for Team Alberta.” said Stephens, who is now busy getting ready for the Admirals’ upcoming inaugural season in the Chinook Hockey League.