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Airdrie well represented on UFA Bisons

By: Lucas Punkari

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 02, 2014 11:58 am

Airdrie native and UFA Bisons forward Ryan Zeniuk chased after Austin Shmoorkoff of the Edmonton Canadians during a Mac’s Midget Tournament game at Father David Bauer Arena on Dec. 29, 2013.
Airdrie native and UFA Bisons forward Ryan Zeniuk chased after Austin Shmoorkoff of the Edmonton Canadians during a Mac’s Midget Tournament game at Father David Bauer Arena on Dec. 29, 2013.
Lucas Punkari/Rocky View Publishing

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With six local players on this year’s UFA Bisons Alberta Midget Hockey League (AMHL) team, the Strathmore-based team has quite an Airdrionian flavour to it.

Forwards Connor Boyd, Ryan Zeniuk, Clay Murray, and Zachary Giroux, along with defenders Phillip Anderson and Austin Cameron are Airdrie’s representatives on the Bisons this season, which currently finds itself in second place in the AMHL’s Chrysler Division with a 17-6-2 record.

“We have a quick team here that moves the puck very well, and I think that has been why we have had a lot of success,” Anderson said.

“I think if we can keep our heads in the game and continue to work hard, we should have a lot of success this season.”

Instead of driving up from Airdrie to practice with the team, the players are living in Strathmore this year, which has been a bit of an adjustment for second-year Bisons forward Zeniuk.

“It’s been a little bit different in adapting to somewhere new, especially when you are in a new school and things like that, but it’s been alright overall,” Zeniuk said. “You get homesick sometimes, but you get to see your family members when you play games, so it’s always nice to see them.”

“When you are living in a town that isn’t where you live regularly, it’s great to have those guys from Airdrie that you know already right there with you,” Anderson added.

“It’s also been nice to meet the guys that are from Strathmore and other locations that are on the team, as it has been great to create and have an even bigger brotherhood.”

One of the biggest tests of the season so far for the Bisons came during the holidays, as it took part in the Mac’s Midget Tournament in Calgary.

Heading into its final round-robin game on Dec. 30, 2013 against the Vancouver NE Chiefs, the Bisons had a 0-1-2 record and sat in fourth place in Pool 2 play.

“It hasn’t been our best tournament, but we look to have more of a fun time at this event,” Bisons Head Coach Dan McDonald said.

“This is our holiday break from league play, so we want to make sure that we are all healthy and ready to go for when we play our next AMHL game on Jan. 4 at home against Leduc.”

“At this tournament, we get to see teams that we wouldn’t face at all during the course of the season, so that is something that I think we look forward to a lot,” he added.

With the Mac’s tournament being one of the biggest midget events in Canada all year, the players find themselves having a bit of nerves before they even take to the ice for the tournament in Calgary.

“This was my first year in the tournament, and I had never played in front of that many people before,” Anderson said.

“It took me a little bit to get into the games because of that, but it has been a cool experience.”

“Even though this is my second tournament, it’s still a little bit nerve-wracking when you are getting set to compete here,” Zeniuk added. “I’m having more fun this year though, as our team is a lot stronger, even though we may not show it in our final results.”

As the team gears up for its stretch drive, Zeniuk feels that the Bisons need to put in a full 60-minute effort on a nightly basis if the team wants to come away with an AMHL title.

“We need to be showing up right from the start instead of fighting our way back to win games,” he said. “Our third periods have been awesome, but if we play good as soon as the first period begins, I don’t think anyone will have an easy time beating us.”


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