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All were winners at Winterland Challenge

The Ronald McDonald Winterland Challenge hockey tournament took place across the region Feb. 17-19.

LAKELAND - The Ronald McDonald Winterland Challenge was a wonderful way to spend time with family on Family Day weekend, Feb. 17-19. Of course, it was the first time in a couple of years since the tournament was held, so everyone was excited to enter.

Teams came from all over northern Alberta - Edmonton, Sherwood Park, St. Albert, and the Lakeland - to play hockey.

Elk Point, Glendon, Bonnyville and Cold Lake were the host sites. RMHC Alberta’s Winterland Invitational is a U9, U11, and U13 hockey tournament hosted in the Lakeland region in support of Ronald McDonald House Charities, Alberta.

The U9s, who play on half ice, were hosted in Elk Point. The A.G Ross Arena parking lot was full and vehicles were lined up and down 51 Street. Eight teams played here on Friday and Saturday, four from Bonnyville, one from Lac La Biche and two from St. Albert, along with the Avalanche. Parents, grandparents and other community members all showed up.

At the U9 level, they don't normally keep score, but at this tournament, Cougar Fuels donated $50 for every goal to the worthy cause, so they did keep track, but it wasn't marked on the scoreboard. The U9 Avalanche team played four games. Cohen ‘Big Horn’ Brousseau, Jace ‘the Jackal’ Malo, Thomas ‘the Tank’ Morris and Benjamin ‘King’ Saddleback were named the Heart and Hustle award winners. Thanks to everyone from Elk Point Minor Hockey and other members of the community of Elk Point for coming out and volunteering for this fantastic event.

The U11 Avalanche team played up in Glendon on Friday, then in Bonnyville on Saturday and Sunday. They won the gold medal in their division of the tournament on Sunday in Bonnyville.

The U13 Avalanche played extremely well also, getting second place in their division, going all the way to a shoot-out in the gold medal final.

They played in Glendon on Friday winning 7-2 over a Bonnyville team. There was a hat trick for ‘Wild Wyatt’ Fontaine, two goals for Liam the ‘Sledgehammer’ Swedgan, Ryder ‘Rhino’ Malo and Tristan ‘Bobcat’ Brousseau also with one goal each. There were also four assists for the set-up man, Remington ‘Steel’ Reynolds, and Jaxon ‘Magic’ Marcoux with a helper as well.

On Saturday in Bonnyville the U13 Elk Point team played the Edmonton Hawks, winning this one 9-2. ‘Wild Wyatt’ had four goals and an assist, Remington ‘Steel’ had two goals and an assist, and ‘Sledgehammer’ had two goals and an assist, ‘Bobcat' found the twine with one, and William ‘Billy Bob’ Ballas had two assists. Goalie Owen ‘Ollie the Goalie’ Grykuliak was outstanding, facing 39 shots.

In the team's second game on Saturday, the U13s found themselves a tougher challenge than the two previous games. This one was against the Sherwood Park Knights, the Avalanche lost, 6-2 in a strong game for ‘Billy Bob,’ who scored a goal and assisted on one by the ‘Steel’ man.

The next day, in Sunday’s gold medal final game, the Avalanche found themselves matched up once again against the same Sherwood Park team they had lost to the day before. Everyone on the team came prepared for the battle.

This game turned into a goaltenders' duel. The score was one all after 60 minutes of regulation time, ‘Billy Bob’ scoring the only goal for the Avalanche. Three shooters would do the shoot-out. Only one goal was scored and it was by Sherwood Park, giving the Avalanche the silver medal.

But as far as most are concerned, everyone is a winner at the Ronald McDonald Winterland Challenge.