Matt Savoie had a coming out party for Alberta at exactly the right time.
Savoie, the only 2004-born forward on Team Alberta had a natural hat trick and five points to lead his group to a bronze medal victory over Saskatchewan in male hockey at the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
The St. Albert native, who is one of two players in the tournament that applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status, had a goal in the first period on a nice deflection to kick start the scoring. He then scored twice in the opening seven minutes of the second to help Alberta in the 12-0 win over Saskatchewan at the Centrium Friday.
“It’s always good, it doesn’t mean that much to me. Getting the bronze medal is always special at a Canada Winter Games. Such a big tournament, so that’s what was more special for me,” said Savoie who finished with 13 points in six games at the tournament.
That’s the game! #TeamAlberta defeats #TeamSask 12-0 to earn bronze in Men’s Hockey at the @2019CanadaGames! Congratulations to our players, coaches and staff on an incredible week! #AlbertaBuilt #GoTeamAB #CGHockey pic.twitter.com/Q5FbKGTJpl
— Team Alberta Hockey (@TeamABHockey) February 23, 2019
With the bronze medal win, it was Alberta’s third bronze and 11th medal in male hockey at the Games since 1967, the most by any province. Alberta has been on the podium in every games since 1991 and last time Alberta hosted the Games in 1995, they won silver.
“I’m proud of this group because they’re going to look back– again it’s going to be a big moment for them,” said Team Alberta head coach Bobby Fox.
“It’s not the gold medal but not many teams can say they’ve medaled at the Canada Winter Games, so I know they’re pretty jacked in that room and as a staff, we’re pretty proud.”
Alberta scored three more times before the halfway mark of the second when Craig Armstrong found the mark twice and Tyson Laventure also buried in between. By the end of the period, Alberta was in complete control with a 9-0 advantage. Dylan Guenther added a pair on the power play and Zack Stringer also scored for the host side.
“We haven’t lead that much in this tournament, we’ve always been coming from behind,” Fox added.
“To play our best defensive period (in the first), it was a good sign and we knew once we got a couple, we knew the floodgates would open with all the skill we have on this team.”
Tees native Drew Sim got the win in net, after allowing eight goals in the semifinals against Ontario pitched a shutout in the victory. Early on in the contest, he made a big save to help Alberta jump out in front and that was key in the victory.
He made 26 saves for the shutout, his only one of the tournament. Sim said it was an unbelievable feeling to win bronze for his province.
“It’s awesome, surreal feeling,” Sim said.
Saskatchewan got the better of Alberta in the first matchup between the two sides. In the opening game of the tournament, they snatched a 4-3 overtime win away from the host. Alberta was also dominated in the semifinal by Ontario and Fox explained he wasn’t sure what they were going to see from the group in the bronze medal game.
“I don’t think we knew what to think in the morning. It’s a sobering moment when you don’t get to go for gold and that was our message today,” he said.
“Be grateful for this opportunity. We’re part of something bigger, we’re part of Team Alberta as a whole and we want to add to that medal count. Just cherish the moment, that was the message and we rallied around that.”