Chestermere player named WHL Cup all-star
Tuesday, Oct 31, 2017 06:00 am
At 15, Chestermere’s Kyle Crnkovic is a star on the rise. He lead in points at the 2017 WHL Cup, held Oct.18 to 22 in Calgary, with 12 (3g, 9a) and was this close to walking away with a gold medal.
“(Taking part in this tournament) was a huge honour and a great experience,” Crnkovic said. “Obviously, it would have been nice to have won a gold medal.”
Since the inception of the WHL Cup in 2009, Alberta has been a dominant force, winning five titles in six tournaments. Unfortunately, Crnkovic and the Alberta squad were unable to secure a sixth title, as the team fell 4-3 in overtime to British Columbia Oct. 22.
“In that game, I thought either team could have won, it just didn’t go our way,” Crnkovic said. “It does sting. If it was to any team it would have stung, it’s just frustrating to have lost first place.”
Although the end result wasn’t what he hoped for, Crnkovic said the experience of the tournament was worthwhile and something he would do again.
Alberta came in as the early favourites, winning all three of its round-robin games by a combined score of 18-8 and securing the top seed heading into the playoffs.
“All tournament our team played really well, every game we gave a consistent effort,” Crnkovic said.
In the playoff portion, Alberta took on fourth-seeded Manitoba Oct. 21 and won handily 7-1 to punch its ticket into the final.
During the tournament, Crnkovic was reunited with a pair of linemates from his last season of bantam hockey at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy, when he was put on a line with Connor McClennon and Jake Neighbours.
Crnkovic and McClennon both play midget prep hockey at the Northern Alberta X-Treme Hockey Academy, but reuniting with Neighbours for the short tournament made for a great experience and was a key reason for Alberta’s early success, according to Crnkovic.
“They are such good players, really easy to play with and we definitely have some great chemistry,” he said. “They are real good buddies of mine and I think this is the last time (we’ll all play together)…. To share that last moment together at WHL Cup was great.”
The trio each finished in the top four in scoring at the tournament and Crnkovic and McClennon were named forward all-stars.
Crnkovic now turns his sights to his season with the X-Treme and his personal goal to crack the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League as a 16-year-old next season.