Locals boosting revamped Midget AAA Bisons
Hockey: Four Foothills players on Strathmore-based club
By: Remy Greer
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 06:00 am
The UFA Midget AAA Bisons are looking to prove the old adage speed beats size to be as true as ever this season.
New head coach Dan MacDonald’s puck-possession style has been welcomed with open-arms by a well-balanced Midget AAA club boasting ample speed and skill.
MacDonald, the former head coach of the Okotoks Junior A Oilers, expects a lot, according to a second-year Bison from the Foothills.
“Expectations are very high,” said forward Mason McCarty, who hails from Blackie. “Dan’s really happy. There’s not one weak link. We have 20 solid guys in the room.
“So far we have good chemistry and he expects a lot of us.”
It will be a Foothills-heavy roster making those strides in Strathmore.
Returning forwards McCarty and Okotokian Matt Forchuk are joined this season by fellow Okotoks products Sebastian Kilcommons and Garrett Mason.
For Mason, it’s been a meteoric rise for the goaltender to the top Midget league in the province for after beginning last season with the Okotoks Midget Tier 1 Oilers.
Mason earned a call-up to the Midget AA Oilers early last season where he enjoyed a stellar year for the South Central Alberta Hockey League outfit.
“It was great. I came in and was able to perform for my team,” said Mason, wary of the faster pace he’ll see in AAA.
“The shots are harder, the games are a bit faster. It’s a pretty big jump up. But it’s not undoable.”
Mason beat the odds to earn one of two spots in the Bisons’ crease alongside Strathmore native Carter Seminuk.
“I wasn’t 100 per cent (assured) because there were some draft picks coming up (to camp) so it was stressful,” he said.
“I thought as long as I was focused I’d be playing well, so I just stayed focused.”
So far, so good.
Mason picked up a win in his first regular season start with the Bisons, a 3-2 triumph over the Lethbridge Hurricanes Sunday in Strathmore.
The Bisons dispatched the Calgary Buffaloes 4-1 in their home opener on Friday, an encouraging start to a season of new beginnings.
“For us, that’s really important,” said Bisons assistant coach Dave Attwood.
“It shows the kids that what they’re doing is going to pay off for them. They’re a keen group, they’re learning well so to have a bit of success is good.”
The UFA Bisons had a solid, albeit inconsistent, 2012-13 campaign. They finished in the middle of the pack with a 16-16-2 record and bowed out of the second round of the playoffs to Red Deer – the eventual provincial and national champion.
“I think we’re a lot better than we were last year,” McCarty said. “We’re smaller, but we’ve got more speed and skill and our coaching is phenomenal.
“We’re definitely going to go for it all this year.”
New to Bisons hockey this year is the association with Strathmore High School.
This season has Bisons players billeting in Strathmore, attending the school and participating in its school-hockey program run by MacDonald, who is an accredited teacher.
“It’s been really different, but it’s nice to see the guys around school and practice during school at times,” McCarty said. “We have a sport performance class where we get out of school and walk to the rink and practice.
“Dan is very strict on strictly hockey and school and staying focused on the task at hand.”
The Bisons are next in action on Oct. 5 when they welcome the North Division’s Sherwood Park Kings to the Strathmore Family Centre for an 8 p.m. puck-drop.
To keep up with the UFA Bisons go to bisonshockey.com