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Former Panthers champion captain heads to AJHL

Uganecz joins Blackfalds Bulldogs for their first AJHL season

LAC LA BICHE - A Lac La Biche County local hockey talent has glided his way to a spot on the Junior A Blackfalds Bulldogs team. The Mustangs play in the south division of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL).

Kyle Uganecz, a 17-year-old who was born in St. Albert but moved to Lac La Biche at the age of two with his family, was signed to the team at the start of the year.  Uganecz was playing at the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Edmonton campus when he got the call.

The local teen played in the Lac La Biche Minor Hockey Association before moving into the province’s bantam AA division. In 2018, he was the team captain for the provincial champion Lakeland AA bantam Panthers. For the last two seasons, he has been studying and playing in the Okanagan Hockey Academy, part of the Canadian Sport Schools Hockey League. In the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, Uganecz played in all five games for the OHA-Edmonton squad and registered five assists.

The six-foot tall, 165 pound right-shooting defenceman who turns 18 in June, was happy to have been scouted by the junior A Bulldogs — the newest team to join the AJHL. 

“It’s amazing, I am so thankful for the opportunity the Bulldogs gave me, and I couldn’t thank them enough,” said Uganecz.

The Bulldogs have spent the last several months creating a team for their coming season. Formerly the Calgary Mustangs, the franchise was facing financial hardships at the end of the 2018 season. Bought by a Red Deer business group, a market was found in the Blackfalds area, a new arena was built, and a roster has been built with plans to hit the ice this fall.

 “It’s a new organization, and it sounds like they’ve got great coaches and staff. It’s a brand new facility with a great training centre, so I’m excited to get out there,” said Uganecz.

Because of COVID-19, Uganecz won’t be able to play with his new team until the fall, but over the last few months, he’s been enjoying time with his family and some hometown hospitality while he practices for the A-league.  Uganecz has been a regular skater on Lac La Biche’s lakeshore ice trail and the on-lake ice rinks. He credits his family, local coaches in the minor hockey levels, the Lakeland Panthers organization and his skill development coaches at OHS in Edmonton, for helping him to get to the level he’s at.

The defenseman was definitely a player to watch when he was with OHA Edmonton as he was named the Best Defensive Player in the 13-team CSCHL’s U16 divisions.

Uganecz has been on the ice since he was four, and despite the multitude of them that he has achieved, for him the game isn’t about the accolades. 

“The biggest thing for me is being able to play with my friends. I like being out there and getting better, but it’s really about the friendships you make,” said the teen.

For more details on the young skater’s progress and developments with the Bulldogs franchise, go to. www.eliteprospects.com