Everything Cochrane hockey player Sarah Wozniewicz touched in 2019 seemed to turn to gold.
The then-15-year-old kicked off the year with a strong showing for Team Alberta at the Canada Winter Games in February, helping the hosts win the gold medal. Despite being the youngest player on the team, Wozniewicz was Alberta’s leading scorer, and tallied the winning strike in the semi-finals to send Alberta to the championship game.
After coming home from the Games, “Woz,” as she is called by her teammates and coaches, finished the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) season as the Edge female prep team’s leading scorer, with 23 goals and 35 points. Her offence played a key role in helping the Mountaineers make it to the CSSHL female prep championship game for the first time in school history.
During the summer, Wozniewicz laced her skates for Team Canada at the 2019 Women's Under 18 series against the United States in Lake Placid, N.Y. She scored two goals and recorded an assist as the Canadians overcame the Americans in the three-game series.
In November, she played for Team Alberta at the U18 national championships in Manitoba. She then earned another call-up to Team Canada for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Under 18 Women's Hockey Championship, which begins on Boxing Day.
Edge prep basketball team
It’s typical for a new program to struggle in its first year competing in the National Preparatory Association (NPA) – a Canada-wide basketball league for elite high-school prep teams.
But the Edge School, which joined the NPA in 2018-19, bucked that trend by going all the way to the championship game.
After ending the regular season as the top team in the Western Conference, the Springbank-based squad proved its strength was no fluke by downing the Canada TopFlight Academy (CTA) in the semi-final of the NPA’s national championships. Despite trailing for most of the fixture, the Mountaineers ended the game with a ferocious comeback to defeat the Ottawa-based team 86-80.
CTA was the favourite to win the title, entering the playoff tournament with an unbeaten 12-0 record and having won the league championship in 2017 and 2018. The loss to the Edge was the sole blight on the team’s record.
The dramatic victory might have taken too much out of the Edge, which lost the following day to Crestwood Preparatory in the gold-medal game.
Despite playing for the Okotoks Oilers for just two seasons, Dylan Holloway ensured his tenure with the junior A hockey team will be remembered by fans for years to come. In his second Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) campaign, the Bragg Creek native set the Oilers’ single-season scoring record, tallying 40 goals and 88 points in 53 regular-season fixtures.
As a result, Holloway was named the AJHL’s most valuable player in 2018-19 and was a recipient of the league’s Viterra Cup, as both he and the Fort McMurray Oil Barons’ Reed Baron won Star of the Game honours 13 times throughout the season. He also laced his skates at the Canadian Junior Hockey League Prospects Game in January.
Having moved on from junior hockey, Holloway is now playing for the University of Wisconsin Badgers. As of Dec. 20, the 18-year-old forward has scored three goals and registered four assists in 17 games during his rookie campaign with the NCAA Division 1 team. He also made the Team Canada selection camp for the 2019 World Juniors, though he fell just short of making the roster.
Holloway is NHL Draft-eligible in 2020.
Rocky View County ringette player Marla Wheeler enjoyed a series of personal accolades throughout 2019. Her first impressive achievement of the year was representing the hamlet of Dalemead as a member of Team Alberta at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in February.
Following that experience, her U19AA Calgary Rush team competed at the U19 national championships in Prince Edward Island. Wheeler and her teammates headed east in March, and skated to a bronze-medal showing.
Wheeler’s performances throughout the season caught the eye of Ringette Canada, and she was invited to try out for the junior national team in May. She was successful, and went on to compete for Canada at the 2019 Ringette World Championships in Burnaby, B.C., in November as one of just two 18-year-olds on the roster.
Now a first-year kinesiology student at the University of Calgary, Wheeler is still playing U19AA ringette. But considering she will age out of the division next year, she said her goal is to try out for a professional team in the National Ringette League – the highest level of ringette in Canada.
In a remarkable showing of athletic versatility and time-management skills, Chestermere High School’s Shaelynn Doughty featured for seven different Lakers teams throughout 2018-19, setting a school record in the process.
In her final year of high school, Doughty played on the senior girls’ squads for volleyball, basketball, curling, ultimate Frisbee and rugby, while also representing the Lakers in badminton and track and field.
Doughty said her senior year was filled with athletic highlights – she earned a provincial bronze medal in badminton and was one of just two Chestermere High School students to qualify for the provincial track-and-field championships, where she finished eighth in the senior women’s one-kilogram discus event with a top throw of 26.80 metres.
She also helped the Lakers rugby sevens team to gold in the RVSA tournament, with an unbeaten record.
Remarkably, Doughty did not only compete for the Lakers, but also played club basketball for the Chestermere, Langdon, Strathmore Minor Basketball Association.
Now graduated, she said she is taking a year off from sports to rehabilitate some injuries, but added her goal is to try out for the basketball team at St. Mary’s University, in Calgary, next fall.
Springbank U13 soccer team
Springbank Soccer Club’s (SSC) top U13 boys’ team made history in August by capturing the small club’s first Tier 1 provincial championship. Playing in St. Albert, Springbank downed the host St. Albert Impact 1-0 in the gold-medal match.
SSC had qualified for provincials on the back of a successful outdoor season, in which the team finished first in Calgary Minor Soccer Association’s Tier 1 boys’ U13 league. Springbank demonstrated its defensive prowess throughout the summer with a 7-1-1 record, conceding just nine goals in as many matches.
The team’s robust defending continued at provincials, where SSC recorded back-to-back clean sheets in its opening two fixtures, against opposition from Calgary and Edmonton.
After losing its third match 3-2, Springbank put together another strong defensive performance in the final to come away with a 1-0 victory.
“I was very happy for the players – they worked hard all season and had a great regular season playing in [Calgary],” head coach Chris Rappel said. “It’s satisfying as a coach to see them succeed, but the kids’ reaction was all the pleasure I needed.”
On the goal-scoring front, Ziyad Eltrabily and Anson Minty were the team’s star offensive performers at provincials, with four goals and three goals, respectively.
If the 2019 Rocky Mountain Lacrosse League (RMLL) season is any indication, the Rockyview Silvertips junior B team is re-writing its recent history.
The Cochrane-based club reached a franchise milestone in July, overcoming the Calgary Chill in the first round of the RMLL junior B Tier 1 playoffs. Team manager Darren Deitz said it was the first time Rockyview has won a playoff series in a decade.
By overcoming the Chill – a team that has, historically, always beaten the Silvertips – Rockyview punched its ticket to face the division-leading Red Deer Rampage for the Central Division title. In two battles, the Rampage swept the Silvertips 10-2 and 11-9.
Despite the losses, Rockyview earned a berth to compete in Alberta’s junior B Tier 1 championship tournament – the Larry Bishop Memorial Cup – for the first time in franchise history. The ‘Tips finished the tournament with a 1-3 record.
"Everybody is proud of what we did this past year," said the team’s leading scorer, Nolan Oakey. "But we want to improve on this year and take it into next season."
Springbank senior girls' volleyball
Prior to 2019, Springbank Community High School had never won a provincial championship in senior girls’ volleyball. That changed this year, with the Phoenix capturing the ASAA 3A provincial banner, Nov. 26.
In a show of consistency, the Phoenix won eight of its nine matches at provincials, including hard-fought wins over Peace Wapiti Academy – the tournament favourite – in the semi-final and Edmonton Christian in the gold-medal match. Both opponents were unbeaten in the lead-up to the fixture against the Phoenix.
Before competing at provincials, Springbank coasted to a first-place finish in the Rocky View Sports Association, with an unbeaten record, before claiming second at the South Central Zones 3A tournament.
Springbank enjoyed success away from regular-season action, as well, winning three of the five tournaments it participated in. With several senior and junior players who also play competitive club volleyball, the team knew all season it had the potential to be a contender for the provincial banner, according to Grade-11 setter Sarah Zonneveld.
“Even at the start of the year, knowing what our team looked like, we gave ourselves a high expectation, and I think we reached that,” she said.
2019 marked another successful year for the Cochrane Cowboys Wrestling Club. Along with medal-filled performances at the Churchill Classic and the University of Alberta Golden Bears Tournament in August, the club sent five wrestlers to compete at the Western Canada Summer Games. Cowboys coach Curtis Hooper said it was the largest contingent the club has ever sent to the multi-province competition.
All five proved their strength in the ring by claiming hardware from the Games. Annika Fines, Autumn Shopa, Zoë Adam and Jaityn Labelle earned gold in their respective weight classes, while Nicholas Hooper brought back silver.
Cowboys alumni wrestling at the post-secondary level also fared well in 2019. In February, brothers Connor and Callum McNeice each won Canada West championships for the University of Calgary Dinos in their respective weight classes.
Despite being diagnosed with pneumonia shortly after his Canada West bouts, Connor McNeice managed to make it all the way to the USPORTS national final for the 65-kilogram weight class. Wrestling on his home mat at the UofC, he gave up a point with just a second left to lose 3-2 to Christopher McIssac – a fourth-year member of the Brock University Badgers and a former USPORTS champion.
Cochrane High School is in the midst of a sporting dynasty that shows no sign of slowing down. Cobras teams picked up division banners in several sports in the Rocky View Sports Association in 2019, including senior boys’ and girls’ basketball, badminton and curling in the winter, track and field, football, as well as senior boys’ volleyball and girls’ soccer.
In some sports, the Cobras’ accomplishments extended beyond local competition. On the gridiron, the football team captured an unprecedented sixth straight Tier III provincial championship Nov. 23, capping off yet another unbeaten season by shutting out Holy Rosary 17-0 in the Alberta Bowl.
In track and field, Cochrane was the second-highest-ranked 3A school in the province at the Alberta Schools Athletic Association’s (ASAA) championships in June, with 29 competing athletes.
The Cobras senior boys’ basketball and volleyball teams also qualified for provincials. In volleyball, the senior boys’ team made it to the quarterfinals of the ASAA 3A championships, while the senior girls’ team qualified for the semi-finals, before ultimately finishing fourth. The senior boys’ basketball team finished fifth.