Injury bug takes bite out of Bisons at Mac’s

Hockey: Okotoks goalie sees plenty of action at tournament

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jan 08, 2014 06:00 am

UFA Bison Garrett Mason makes a save against the Vancouver NE Chiefs on Dec. 30 at the Mac’s Midget Hockey tournament in Calgary.
UFA Bison Garrett Mason makes a save against the Vancouver NE Chiefs on Dec. 30 at the Mac’s Midget Hockey tournament in Calgary.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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A flu bug had an Okotoks goalie suddenly being the number-one guy at one of the biggest Midget hockey tournaments in Canada.

Garrett Mason wound up playing all four games for the UFA Bisons at the Mac’s Midget Tournament Dec. 26 to Jan. 1 in Calgary when fellow netminder Carter Seminuk was sidelined with the flu.

“That’s a real big load for one goalie to take on,” Bisons head coach Dan MacDonald said. “We’ve been sharing it (goalie’s duties) all year… At this age four games in five days is difficult.”

The Bisons just missed advancing to the playoff round as they finished with a 1-1-2 record in a tough division.

The Bisons opened the Mac’s with a pair of ties, 3-3 against the Sherwood Park Kings on Dec. 26 and 4-4 versus the Regina Pats on Dec. 27.

The Kings are the first place team in the North Division of the Alberta Midget Hockey League.

The Bisons’ lone loss at the Mac’s was a 5-4 decision to the CAC Gregg Distributors on Dec. 28. CAC is the second-place team in the north. The Bisons finished the tourney with a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver NE Chiefs on Dec. 30.

The Seventeen-year-old Mason admitted he didn’t expect to see so much action.

“I thought I played alright even though I didn’t quite get the results I wanted,” he said. “It’s been a good experience. It’s taught me that I always have to be ready… It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Mason said he felt for his partner in goal, Seminuk.

“He started one game (the 4-4 tie to Regina) and gave up two goals. They were good goals he just got beat,” Mason said after the 4-3 victory over Vancouver on Dec. 30. “I feel sorry for him — he’s been laying in bed for the past two days.”

Seminuk wasn’t the only missing ingredient on the Bisons’ line-up. The Bisons, who are second in the Alberta league’s South Division lost their top scorer, Blackie’s Mason McCarty, prior to the tournament when he jammed his wrist in the final league game before the Christmas break.

“We tied two games and Mason gets about a goal a game, you can see the difference — we missed him for sure,” MacDonald said.

UFA forward Matt Forchuk said he knew his linemate McCarty wasn’t going to be available for the tourney — the Bisons just had to suck it up and dance with the ones they brought to the ball.

“I have been playing with Mason for a few years and we feed off each other,” Forchuk said.

“We missed him, but we don’t necessarily need him to win… We just had to play hard, but we had gaps in our game that we seemed to take off.”

Forchuk said he believed the Bisons should have won both the games they tied.

“We dominated the third period against Regina, but the bounces just didn’t go our way,” Forchuk said. “It was a good tournament, I just wish we could have gone further.”

The Okotokian contributed two goals in the tourney for the Bisons as well as throwing his weight around.

Sixteen-year-old Okotokian Sebastian Kilcommons had a solid first Mac’s tournament, MacDonald said.

“He is still learning and improving — he is going to be a very good defenceman,” MacDonald said.

The lanky blueliner said it was an eye-opener when he stepped on the ice for his first game in the Mac’s on Boxing Day against Sherwood Park.

“The very first game the crowd was overwhelming, but I got used to it,” Kilcommons said. “I was nervous… This was the biggest tournament I have ever been in.”

The steady stay-at-home defenceman held his own, picking up an assist at the Mac’s.

He was disappointed not to advance to the playoff round, but he added the experience will help him and his teammates in the future.

“Obviously, having two days off is going to be nice, but I would have preferred to play some more games,” Kilcommons said.

“All the teams deserve to be here. They are all really good teams, it was interesting to play against them.”

MacDonald admitted the Mac’s will help the Bisons as they gear up for the stretch drive of the regular season and then the Alberta Midget Hockey League playoffs.

“You have to play good teams (at the Mac’s) and that’s just the way it is,” he said. “We like to think we are a good team.”

The Bisons are in second-place in the South Division of the league with a 17-8-2 record.

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