After the first period chaos settled, Alberta Yellow had just enough gusto to pull out their first win at the 2019 Alberta Cup.
They combined with Alberta Blue for seven goals in the opening period of the second game on Day 2 but needed late goals in the second and third to finish off the 6-4 victory.
Michael Romero notched a pair of first-period tallies for Yellow and three players, including Matt Savoie, Kenneth Boychuk and Billal Noori finished with a goal and two assists.
Head coach Steve Ewaskiw said it was his groups’ commitment to the process that allowed them to stay calm, weather the storm and pull out the win over Blue.
“We’ve been building a process with the guys. Our first game was a little rough, we eased into it. We started focusing on habits and the boys have really embraced those,” Ewaskiw said.
“It was good, they got rewarded today. They earned it.”
Yellow led 4-3 after 20 minutes but in the second, Innisfail product Cole Fox deposited a slick feed from Ty Hurley on the power play to tie the game at four. Fox’s Red Deer Bantam AAA Rebels teammate Tyler MacKenzie also assisted on the goal.
“My playmaking ability and my skating have really showed out there and hopefully I can keep doing that throughout the tournament,” said Fox post-game.
Late in the second Boychuk notched the game-winning goal with a seeing-eye point shot that eluded Blue goalie Ethan Farrow.
Fox and MacKenzie were a big part of the Blue pushback late in the third and even appeared to tie the game at five, before the goal was waved off.
“We got down after that but we got right back up the next shift. We didn’t complain about it, we took it and went back out there and fought back,” said MacKenzie.
That would be the difference, as Savoie, the likely first overall pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft put the nail in the Blue coffin with 1:25 in the game. He sniped a laser past Farrow to put the contest out of reach.
Ewaskiw said beyond his captain’s ability on the ice, it’s the intangibles and quiet leadership that set him apart from his peers.
“He was good the first two games, but the habits, he comes in, got a goal and a nice assist on the first goal. It was good to see Matt– you can see the confidence coming from him. He’s the captain and he’s the leader and it goes from there,” added Ewaskiw.
“He’s the last guy out, following everybody and making sure everybody is together. He’s the guy out there leading us. He’s on the gate when we’re killing a penalty late. He’s out there and leading the boys, doing a great job of that.”
Fox said that despite the loss, he’s having a blast at the Alberta Cup and believes their fortunes will turn if they keep playing hard.
“It’s a great experience, meeting new people, coming together with a new team and having a lot of fun,” said Fox after the loss.
“We battled hard out there, had a couple bounces not go our way, but that’s not going to put us down.”
MacKenzie, a Red Deer product had just the lone assist in the loss and believes he can elevate his game going forward.
“I played good, could have moved my feet a bit more. Had some scoring chances and got the puck off the wall. Always another level to get to,” added MacKenzie.
Yellow will play Alberta Green in its final round robin game Saturday morning at 10 a.m., while Blue takes on Alberta Grey at 3 p.m.