We’ll be back next year, owner vows
High Prairie proved to be too much for the Slave Lake Icedogs in the GMHL West Division final. The powerful Red Wings swept to the championship on the May long weekend, defeating the Icedogs three games to none. The scores were 7 – 1, 7 – 3 and 7 – 1.
The first game was already reported on, in last week’s Leader. Thanks to the long weekend, we didn’t get any of the long weekend news in the May 26 paper; that makes it a week-and-a-half old, but here it is, for the record.
Game 2, played on Friday, May 21, saw the Icedogs jump out to another decent start. They scored first and trailed just 3 – 2 after 20 minutes. Austin Gaspar and Matthew Brousseau were the Slave Lake goal-scorers.
High Prairie scored three unanswered in the second, to put it out of reach. The Icedogs managed a third-period goal, by Tylee Sylvestre, but that was as good as it got. Shots were 46 – 34 in favour of the Red Wings.
Saturday’s clincher was more one-sided and was over, in effect, in one period. High Prairie scored six times in the first, and cruised the rest of the way. Whoever was scoring the game didn’t even bother to record the shots on goal. Justice Shillingford-Borges scored the only goal for the Icedogs.
That wraps up Season #2 for the Icedogs and the division of the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League they play in. It was a strange one, occurring in two parts, separated by about four months when games were not permitted. Nor were any fans attending, which must have taken a toll on team finances.
But apparently not too much of a toll, because team owner Lauren Barr says the Icedogs finished the season debt-free!
“We will be back next season,” Barr said, on May 25. “Starting today, my focus is the 2021/22 season. The draft is May 30.”
Recruiting players will be a big part of the challenge between now and puck-drop in September.
Barr says the focus is not to keep players, but to advance them to college teams or higher junior leagues. She expects as many as eight members of this year’s squad to do that. Only one – Griffin Thiessen – has so far indicated his intent to return to the Icedogs.
Other bits of news: Kennedy will be returning behind the bench for the Icedogs, Barr says. He faced significant challenges this past season, but rolled with the circumstances (which included the long layoff and losing some of his better players) and got some decent results.
Kayla Busk, the team’s trainer, was named the ‘volunteer of the year’ for the Icedogs.
“She’s so dedicated,” Barr says.
Finally, on the expansion front, Barr says three new teams are confirmed for next season; one in Alberta and two in British Columbia. That would make it a seven-team league; it would also mean a lot more travel.