Senior team tastes bronze at Alberta Games
Hockey: Zone 2 70-plus squad captures podium finish with shootout thriller
By: By Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 20, 2013 06:00 am
It was an ending worthy of a bronze medal at the Alberta 55-plus Winter Games.
Brothers combined in the fourth round of the shootout to give Zone 2 the thrilling 4-3 victory over Zone 4 in the bronze medal game of the men’s hockey 70-plus division, Saturday at Winsport in Calgary.
“After the first couple of shots you settle in better and the nerves go away,” said Zone 2 goalie and Okotokian Leon Risdon about the shootout. “He was looking right so when he went to shoot I just stacked the pads and it hit me.”
Simultaneously at the other end of the ice, Leon’s older brother Doug buried the game-winning tally in the double-shootout to clinch the bronze medal for Zone 2.
“I just faked the shot, froze the goaltender and went a little further and put it inside,” said Doug Risdon, a Strathmore resident. “I didn’t know what I was going to do when I left (centre ice) and it just seemed like the thing to do at the time.”
Zone 2’s bronze medal had a distinct foothills flavour.
More than half of the roster hailed from the foothills, including DeWinton’s Bruce Myers, Longview’s Gary Malmberg, Jim Munro and Frank Stephen from the High River area and Okotokians Ian Harris, Stan Horbachewski and John MacKillop, who organized the team.
The tournament didn’t prove too strenuous for the competitors. MacKillop and three other members of Zone 2 play recreational hockey at South Fisk Creek several times a week, as does Munro in High River.
“We don’t really play as a team until we get here,” Munro said. “So it takes a few games to get rolling.”
Zone 2 struggled out of the gate opening with a 6-4 loss to Calgary (Zone 2), the eventual gold medal winners. The foothills team bounced back by edging Zone 1 3-2 on an overtime winner from Malmberg to advance to the bronze medal showdown.
“That was great for us. Coming in I thought if we won one game that would be good,” MacKillop said. “Guys were disappointed we lost our first game and I’m thinking it doesn’t really matter. We were lucky we got to play those guys and it was competitive.”
Results aside, the bronze medalists got a kick out of playing with the best of their age group in a facility that housed the Team Canada’s World Junior Championship evaluation camp just weeks prior.
Seventy-year-old Okotokian Stan Horbachewski said the passion for hockey is what continues to fuel his fire to strap on his skates.
“It was all about fun and fellowship and just going out there and doing your best,” said Horbachewski. “At our age we’re lucky we’re still standing and still playing and still playing at a pretty good level for our age.”
As the zeal for the game never goes away, neither does the camaraderie and teamwork as evident in the Zone 2 dressing room following the match.
“Congratulations to all the guys,” Horbachewski added. “It’s really something to see these guys. It’s like a big family and some of us have never played together and we did a heck of a good job.”
High River’s Frank Stephen, a veteran of three previous Alberta 55-plus Winter Games, said the fourth go-around was all about enjoying the experience.
“You have to keep it that way where you’re having fun, I mean we’re 70 years old,” Stephen said. “It’s just the group of guys, the motivational thing, you go out with the guys and it’s fun.”
The group could be getting together again in provincial competition soon.
MacKillop, the area representative for the Alberta 55-plus Games, said he’s taking steps to build foothills teams in slow-pitch, golf, tennis and track and field for the 2013 Alberta 55-Plus Summer Games, June 25-28 in Barrhead and Westlock.
For more information on the Alberta Games go to www.albertagames.com