While the players were far from the behomoths we might see in professional uniforms, they gave every bit as much in the way of energy and spirit. Tom Best photos

No arena? No problem for Hazelton champions

Hazelton Atom team wins it all in Smithers tournament despite not being able to practise.

There’s plenty of old sayings to go around. Like that one about practice making perfect.

But what if you cannot practice? Like you have no facility that you can practice in. In that case, most people might say that you should still participate but don’t get your hopes up too high.

That’s just not how Aaron Wesley operates. He’s the coach of the Hazelton Atom team that skated in last weekend’s tournament here in Smithers.

The man was bursting with pride. You see, his charges just had a weekend where they won four games in the preliminary round of the competition and then out performed a feisty Prince Rupert squad to claim top honours for the weekend.

“The kids are playing phenomenal considering they don’t have any practices. We don’t have an arena this year,” he said.

He explained that the only ice time they have is the time they get when they play games. So for this season, prior to the Smithers contest, they had a combined 3-8 record.

Needless to say they were not coming in as heavy favorites, except in their own minds.

“Most of all, they are excited and they have lots of heart,” said Wesley.

You could easily see that heart in the way they played. The preliminary round was no walkover but they eked out a 4-0 record to become the odds-on favorite to take the whole show.

There were no blowouts or overwhelming performances in the lead up to the championship game against Prince Rupert. Those hearts kicked in and led the team to a 7-4 which was really a lot closer than a simple score might tell.

Here is what sport is all about. Doing your best regardless of the odds and despite whatever obstacles one might have to overcome.

sports@interior-news.com

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Hazelton was a bit slow in their net at times but the defense pitched in to keep the game in their favour.

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