Although they missed out on capturing the Western Challenge Cup title in Victoria, B.C. earlier this month, a silver medal showing for the Saskatchewan Under 17 ball hockey team has Prince Albert’s Aaron Campbell excited about the future.
“I’m really proud about how we did,” said Campbell, who is a centre for the team. “I’ve been fortunate enough to go to the tournament over the past couple of seasons and we were lucky to win a game or two along the way.
“To get a silver medal and be in the mix for a title was an awesome experience. We have a lot of guys coming back next year and we should be a contender once again.”
Campbell was one of three players from Prince Albert on the team, as Landon Leschyshyn and Bransen Ray joined him on the roster.
The rest of the lineup, which was finalized after a tryout process in March, included players from Warman, Saskatoon and Lloydminster.
“We practiced about once a week, competed in a tournament and played on a regular basis in the Saskatoon men’s league before we went to the Western Challenge Cup,” Campbell said.
“We were a hard working team right away, but I think that experience of playing in the men’s league was a huge help, as we got to face some strong competition.”
Team Saskatchewan posted a 4-0 round-robin record to lead the way in Pool B and advanced to the final with a 2-0 triumph over the Valley Venom on Saturday, July 14.
“Valley had won the tournament the last two years so we knew that would be a tough test for us, but our goaltender (Matthew Hennessey) made a lot of great saves and we played a great team game to get the win,” Campbell said.
“The majority of the teams at the tournament were from British Columbia and Alberta, so it was a pretty strong field. However, we were a well-balanced team with some great speed, which allowed us to have a good week.”
Saskatchewan’s undefeated run came to an end in the gold medal game on Sunday, July 15, as they fell 3-1 to the Richmond Warriors.
“We fell behind 2-0 but were able to get within a goal in the final 10 minutes,” Campbell said.
“I thought we played well, but we just came up a little bit short in the end.”
Campbell led the Prince Albert trio with two goals and one assist in six games at the tournament.
Ray had a pair of helpers during the week and Leschyshyn had one assist.