The CFR Chemical Bisons competed in the 40th Mac’s Midget AAA World Invitational Tournament Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 1 and although the team didn’t make it through the group stage of the tournament, the experience was a major benefit for the young squad.
The Bisons played a busy four games in four days over the tournament, compiling a 1-3-0 record to finish fourth in Pool 5, missing a shot at the playoff round.
“(The tournament) goes by very quick…. There wasn’t much time to rest, but we did have some good results,” head coach Dan Gendur said. “We were definitely happy with what happened.”
Although his team was only able to muster one win, Gendur said he and his coaching staff were happy with the play of the team and saw growth from the players.
The Bisons found itself placed into one of the more difficult groups alongside the British Columbia Major Midget League-leading Valley West Hawks and Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League-leading Regina Pat Canadians, as well as Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League rival Calgary Northstars and the Ontario Junior Reign.
The Bisons kicked off its tournament Dec. 26, 2017 against the Hawks in Calgary. Airdrie jumped out to an early 2-1 lead after 20 minutes with goals coming from Luke Jensen and Jake Petrie.
The Hawks tied it up early in the second with a power-play marker, but a second goal from Petrie put the Bisons in front again. The Bisons looked to be heading into the second intermission with another lead, but a second power-play goal in the final two minutes knotted the game up at 3-3.
In a third period, where neither team gave up much chances, the Hawks finally pulled ahead scoring with 2:33 remaining in the game and added an empty-netter in the final minute to win 5-3.
Although his team played well against the BCMML’s top squad, Gendur said he felt like his team shot itself in the foot in the loss.
“Our penalty kill has been struggling over the past month and we were the most penalized team in the tournament,” Gendur said. “We gave Valley West some opportunities on the powerplay and they’re a highly skilled team with a lethal power play.
“You can’t give skilled hockey players too many opportunities or they’ll burn you.”
The Bisons took on the Reign the next day and came back from a 3-1 deficiet heading into the third quarter to score three unanswered goals from Tyrel Bauer, Cayde Augustine and Nickolas de Beurs. The effort earned the team its first win of the tournament.
The young team took a shot to its playoff hopes Dec. 28, 2017 in a 4-0 shutout loss to the eventual tournament champion Regina. The Bisons were eliminated from contention Dec. 29, 2017 after falling 2-1 to the Northstars, where Petrie netted his third goal of the tournament.
Despite having its tournament come to an end so soon, Gendur said he believed his team played well and made major strides as a squad.
Following a truncated break, the Bisons return to AMHL action against a pair of tough Chrysler Division foes, taking on the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs in Carstairs Jan. 6 and returning to Ron Ebbesen Arena for a game against the Lethbridge Midget AAA Hurricanes Jan. 7.
With just 10 games remaining in the season, Gendur said his team needs to turn around its fortunes quickly if it hopes to make a push to the post-season.
“There is not an easy game in our conference, everybody is well above .500,” Gendur said. “We’re going to have to make a strong push to fight for a playoff spot, but also get some help.
“Going against these two teams is a great starting point for us.”