By Kenyon Stronski
Westwind Weekly News
The Town of Raymond has a lot of superstars brewing in their ranks, from young kids learning to throw a football to others practising their first layups on a basketball court. What isn’t something many think of when Raymond is brought up however, is hockey. That changed when the U11 Knights brought home their first Tier 1 Championship banner.
Assistant Coach of the U11 Knights, Lane Heggie explained in the Central Alberta Hockey League (CAHL) – consisting of every hockey association south of Edmonton – teams are tiered at the start of the season which decides their later matchups.
“So around 131 U11 teams in the CAHL and they tier you at the start of the season based on your first 10 games and our boys won every game so we got put into the highest year and we ended up winning the whole thing so you could say we’re the best U11 hockey team south of Edmonton in Alberta. It was a pretty cool season.”
The statement is backed up by the U11 Knights impressive 34-4 record, with Heggie stating their Head Coach, Kade Hill believed they would have a fairly competitive team going into the season.
“We had a lot of players coming back from our team last year but we really didn’t know what to expect,” Said Heggie.” When we went 9 – 0 in the tiering rounds where they determine your tier – we still didn’t know what to expect after that. We decided to push the boys as hard as we could this year and we would request to be tier one this year instead of tier two because they did give us that option.”
With Hill making the decision to put the team into Tier 1, Heggie said they worked hard and pushed the boys as much as they were able – and they stepped up to the challenge to bring home a banner that’ll last for centuries.
For the future of the hockey association, Heggie said he also hopes this win will shine more light on the Raymond hockey program and even go as far as to get more kids into hockey.
“What we’re hoping comes out of it, is we’re hoping more kids in Raymond want to play hockey. Raymond’s not so much a hockey town as it is a basketball and football town so one of the cool parts of the season was having hundreds of people – and I figure we had four or five hundred – at our final game. Usually in Raymond we have 50 people at a kids hockey game so we’re hoping it spurs some more interest in hockey in the town.”
With around half their team graduating up to U13, it’s possible there may be some growing pains come their next season – however Heggie also noted they did have a couple U9 kids step up and play on U11 as well.
“I believe we have seven kids graduating to U13 this year, out of 13 total players. The other thing that was miraculous about the season is we didn’t have enough players that were U11 age so we had to have two boys from the U9 team play what’s called underage on our team that’ll be coming into U11 this next season.”