It was a picture perfect start for Alberta Black at the 2019 Alberta Cup.
Playing as the unofficial home team at the tournament, Black knocked off Alberta Yellow 4-0 to start the event. The provincial best-on-best tournament, which started Thursday and finishes Sunday, features the top 120 2004-born players in Alberta.
Seven members of Alberta Black played the Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels in the Alberta Bantam AAA Hockey League this year and were impactful on day 1. That group lost the best-of-five provincial final to the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers in double overtime of Game 5.
A significant contingent from each of those groups were contributors in the win over Yellow on Thursday. Red Deer’s Nate Danielson had a goal in the third period on a delayed penalty, while Nolan Larson opened the scoring and Conner Claughton and Ty Daneault each had an assist.
Danielson, player of the game for Black and a likely first-round pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft next week, said he was happy to contribute in the victory, especially with plenty of family and friends in attendance.
“It was really special. A bunch of family here, so that’s always nice. Nice to play where you’re from always,” said the five-foot-11, 147-pound forward.
“Felt good to get the first one. Just get the confidence and keep going through the tournament.”
Alberta Black with a dominant 4-0 win over Team Yellow to kick off #ABCup
Black POG: Nate Danielson
Yellow POG: Cale Ashcroft #RedDeer product Danielson has a real strong game all over the ice. Ended up with one goal.
Kaden Toussaint pitches shutout on home ice. pic.twitter.com/vYdtZn1aW0
— Byron Hackett (@RDAbyronhackett) April 25, 2019
His coach offered a glowing assessment after the morning game, stressing the value of Danielson’s leadership before the games even started this week.
“Obviously, he’s a talent. Full package. That’s why we were really high on high back in our evaluation camp,” said Alberta Black coach Tony Orsini.
“He’s a complete player, a 200-foot player, has great vision and good size. The kid just oozes leadership. The kids gravitate to him. It was pretty obvious to us who was going to wear that ‘C’.”
Kaden Toussiant, a Rimbey native and another Bantam AAA Rebels player, turned aside all 21 shots he faced and pitched a shutout to open the tournament.
“Felt really good, the boys played well in front of me. It’s home ice, so I’m used to it. It was stressful at the start but I got used to it,” he said.
In the first, Black got off to a hot start when a point shot hit Larson’s skate and deflected in past Yellow goalie Zachery Onyskiw. Another tough bounce got past Onyskiw in the second when he deflected a harmless shot off the glass, only to see it bounce back into the crease, off his glove and in.
From there, Black rolled, with Mason Hartley snipping in the second and Danielson blasting one short side midway through the third.
“The one thing I really like about this group already is a sense of brotherhood,” Orsini said.
“From Day 1 we’ve been preaching it’s all about the team. It’s about us, the big we, the little me. They’re starting to believe in themselves. The biggest thing is everybody has value on this team. That’s how we’re trying to build this culture in a short-term competition.”