One local hockey player has been selected to represent the region at the upcoming 2016 Alberta Winter Games.
Twelve-year-old Wyatt Cook, a defenceman with the Cold Lake Freeze, was one of the 20 players named to the Zone 7 roster for the provincial peewee hockey tournament in February.
“I am psyched,” said Cook, who received a call on Dec. 1 notifying him that he had made the roster.
“They gave me a phone call. It was awesome.”
Cook was one of 60 players who attended the try-out camp in Viking from Nov. 27 to 29.
The camp saw players from all over northeastern Alberta convene in one community to try and make the regional squad. Top-notch talent from Bonnyville, Cold Lake, Czar, Fort McMurray, Fort Saskatchewan, Lac La Biche, Lloydminster, Provost, St. Paul, Vermillion and Wainwright found a spot on the final roster.
“We’re very impressed with the level of talent displayed at this year’s selection camps,” said Dustin Moore, coordinator for Team Alberta. “Choosing just 20 players for each team is never easy, but we’re excited for these athletes to take a big step forward in their development and take part in a provincial event like the Alberta Winter Games.”
Former Cold Lake Ice head coach Neil Langridge was one of the coaches tasked with selecting the Zone 7 team. Langridge, who has gone through several Jr. B selection camps, was in for a different experience choosing this roster.
“We had 60 players that I have never seen play before from all over northeastern Alberta. It was definitely different,” said Langridge, an assistant coach with the Zone 7 team.
“It was a tough process to get down to that final 20 players that is for sure.”
The large group of talented 12-year-olds from across the region was whittled down to a small roster of two goalies, six defenceman and 12 forwards.
“It was a good experience,” said Cook, of attending the selection camp. “There were a lot of kids there. It was awesome.”
Six players from Lloydminster, four players from Bonnyville, one from St. Paul and others from various towns across the northeastern part of the province join Cook on the roster.
The squad will compete against seven other teams representing zones across the province in the tournament, which is scheduled for Feb. 13 to 16.
“I am interested to see what (the talent) is like in other areas,” said Cook. “It will be great. I am excited.”
In eight games this season the young Cold Lake defenceman has 11 goals and four assists and will be counted on to be one of the more offensive defenceman on the Zone 7 roster.
Unfortunately for the coaching staff the team isn’t allowed to get together and practice before the tournament. Hockey Alberta feels organizing practices could be hard for some teams due to the wide geographical zones, so in order to keep it fair they prohibited practices and in person meetings for all teams until the tournament begins.
While he can’t get the players together all at once, Langridge is still planning to get out and take a look at his players in action whenever possible.
“Over the next two months I am going to try and get as much time watching these guys as possible,” said Langridge.
“For us as a coaching staff I think we all came out pretty happy with the 20 individuals that we are going to take and make a team here come February.”
The 2016 Alberta Winter Games are set to take place in Medicine Hat during the second week of February.