Purple Deer County’s Ryann Holbein performs the puck throughout U16 Crew Alberta observe on the Gary W. Harris Canada Video games Centre Saturday afternoon. (Picture by Ian Gustafson/ Advocate workers)
For the primary and solely time earlier than the 2023 Canada Winter Video games, the U16 male and U18 feminine hockey groups hit the ice.
Over the weekend each squads performed two scrimmages every on the Gary W. Harris Canada Video games Centre in preparation for the Video games in Prince Edward Island from Feb. 18 to March 5.
Purple Deer Rebels prospect and Calgary native Luke Vlooswyk, who earned a spot on the boys’s group, mentioned it was thrilling to step on the ice as a member of Crew Alberta.
“It’s been nice, many of the guys know one another from earlier groups. We’ve acquired a extremely nice group of fellows in there and it’s going to be an thrilling couple of months main as much as the event,” he mentioned.
“It’s an superior feeling. It’s the primary time I’ve actually felt that satisfaction inside and I’m actually excited. I do know the remainder of the boys are for the event and it’s going to be enjoyable.”
The 15-year-old performed within the Alberta Cup final 12 months which was a terrific expertise however this will likely be his first true time representing his province.
One of many largest challenges is growing chemistry throughout the group in a brief period of time earlier than Christmas. The three-day camp which ran via Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was their solely alternative to take action earlier than February.
Vlooswyk they’ve taken half in a couple of team-building workout routines together with listening to a speech from a Okay-9 unit member. The officer defined the significance of working as a group and accountability.
“That was a extremely cool expertise for the group and I believe all of the boys actually loved that,” he mentioned.
Exhibiting his capability to play a two-way recreation was key for Vlooswyk to show to the teaching workers they made the suitable selection in choosing him.
“With the ability to stretch the ice offensively, make fast passes up, be a part of the push, but additionally use my stick and my attain to my benefit,” he mentioned.
When he’s not taking part in for Alberta the six-foot-two-inch tall defenceman mans the blueline for the undefeated U18 AAA Calgary Buffaloes within the Alberta Hockey League who’re on a 17-game successful streak.
“That’s been superior. If you discuss one other nice group of fellows everybody on our group is clicking proper now,” Vlooswyk mentioned.
Head coach of the U16 male group Serge Lajoie mentioned it was thrilling to see the group collectively as an entire for the primary time.
“We’ve challenged the gamers to simply play to their strengths at the beginning,” Lajoie mentioned. “We’re nonetheless within the formation and constructing phases and of this group, we wish to see the place gamers may match… It’s nearly like an idea of opening the barn door and letting the horses run.”
In Lajoie’s eyes, his group has a ton of ability all through the lineup. On the finish of the day, the gamers scouted to play on the group had a aggressive hearth inside them.
The margin of error on the Video games goes to be very small and he anticipates it’ll be excellent hockey on show in two months time.
“It comes all the way down to the group that’s going to be disciplined by way of taking part in to their construction but it surely’s a group that’s going to stay collectively,” Lajoie mentioned.
“That was the aim of this camp is for the teaching workers and gamers to construct that bond and that relationship.”
Alberta’s bench boss additionally had excessive reward for Vlooswyk.
“I identical to his presence on the ice. Off the ice he’s precisely the identical method he’s on the ice. Very mature, very partaking younger man, and that’s what drew me to him. He performs the sport in a really mature method. He is aware of his strengths and performs to his strengths.
“He embodies what we’re on the lookout for.”
Purple Deer County’s Ryann Holbein donned the Alberta brand for the primary time Friday evening in an exhibition recreation with the U18 feminine group.
Regardless of some group struggles early on in studying learn how to play with each other she mentioned the expertise has been nice.
“I’ve at all times dreamt of taking part in with the emblem on my chest and so it feels unreal simply to symbolize my province,” she mentioned.
Early on Holbein mentioned she’s been slotted on the powerplay which is a place she feels essentially the most snug in.
“I simply wish to go on the market and show that I need to be there and in addition simply present my heads up recreation that I’m recognized for,” Holbein added.
“I’ve gotten fairly a couple of factors on the powerplay this 12 months… I play on the prime of the umbrella so I’m sort of just like the quarterback. Making heads-up misleading performs, the sneaky little passes again, and simply seeing the ice is what I’m actually sturdy at.”
Holbein performs for the U18 AAA Sutter Fund Chiefs who’re at the moment in third place within the Alberta Feminine Hockey League. Crew Alberta’s U18 Feminine group head coach Brett Wold can be the bench boss for the Sutter Fund Chiefs.