Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ball Hockey Tournament in Edmonton

The Western Challenge Cup is a ball hockey tournament that includes teams from B.C. through to Manitoba. Every year it rotates being hosted between B.C. and Alberta and Kai has the highest chance of making this team on the years that it is away as he is the older at that time. We weren't sure if he should try out for the U13 team as we had a big trip to Europe planned but he really wanted to and we thought the tryouts would be a good experience. 

Well, he made the team of 15 runners and 2 goalies. Leading up to the tournament in Edmonton, Kai fundraised with bottles and earned $240 to pay for his team fees, "new" back-up stick and gloves.  He also had many practises and exhibition games. Going into the tournament their only loss was to Delta and they tied with Metro. They felt pretty confident and Surrey has a pretty good reputation of doing well at this tournament. 

WCC tournament in Edmonton for Surrey Scorpions U13

Being that this was not a trip we had budgeted for in our summer plans, we drove to save money on flights and car rental. Thankfully gas is very affordable in Alberta! We stopped at Wells Gray (which we had been to three years prior) for lunch and then powered through towards Valemount.

We stayed at Tete Jaune Lodge as it's affordable, beautiful and we had been there before. It is the perfect location close to the B.C./ Alberta border. Small cabins are $45 and large are $90 – we packed our own sleeping bags and pillows. 

We got on the road early the next day to attempt at hike at Mt Robson but as we started our trek to Kinney Lake it was just raining too much and we turned around. The drive through Jasper was beautiful and we saw so many animals!

Kai had a practice as soon as we arrived at Edmonton and so began five days of hockey. It was stressful and stuffy in there!

The Surrey Scorpions lost their first game to Victoria 1-0. Although they played a strong defensive game they just couldn't get a ball in the net. Kai won MVP for that first game and I agreed that he played really well generating a lot of chances.

The next day was rough as they ended with a tie and a loss. They needed to win against Delta the following day in order to have a chance to make it into the playoffs. This was hard for the team because all the other Surrey teams (U11, U15, U17 and U19) made it no problem. 

They won against Delta 4-1 but there was a five-way tie for that 8th spot in the playoffs! It went to point differential and we sat at "0" which meant that we were moving on–good thing our team plays a great defensive game.  I was so grateful for this as that meant three more games for them and a chance to prove what they could actually do (the pools for the tournament were very "interesting" with a strong pool and a weaker one which made it difficult to qualify on our side). 

We faced the #1 team Grand Prarie and beat them 2-1! This put us into the semifinals where we would face off against Metro who we had tied in the exhibition games but never beat. We ended up losing and therefore going for bronze.

In the meantime we tried to get outside as much as possible and Nya loved the swimming pool at the hotel. We did not do any touristy things other than visit West Edmonton Mall where Kai went bowling with his team. 

The kids were so proud of their big brother! Koen watched every game intently while Nya watched her iPad.

In the final game against Ridge, who we had lost to in the round robin, the boys (and girl) came together and won 5-1! Metro won gold, Delta silver, and Surrey bronze–this was very similar to our experience in the exhibition games prior to the tourney. Kind of wild that we all had to drive 12 hours to play each other in the semifinals.

Kai finished the tournament with one goal, two assists, and a whole lot of great memories and new friends. He played really well in several games and stressed me out in a few of the others. Moving forward he hopes to work more on his shot and physicality (using his body more to get the ball–he's a bit tentative even though he's got some great height/weight on him).

It looks like next year Surrey will be hosting and both boys will try out but their chances will be slimmer as Kai will be going for U15's. We'll see!

We left immediately after the last game (in a super smelly van) and made it back to Tete Jaune Lodge for another night. I had a terrible migraine the entire five-hour drive which is made much worse through smells. We had a good night sleep in our small cabin (it truly had just double bunk beds and a mini fridge) and then drove home the rest of the way the next day.

Gary was saying that this tournament was more of a "business trip" as we didn't have time to explore and hike. We would LOVE to do the Jasper Banff Corridor one day but we had to get back ASAP as we only had two days at home to prepare for Europe.

I'm thankful for a safe drive and that our van made it no problem. I'm thankful that Koen and Nya survived a week of hockey. I'm thankful that we made it through the tourney injury free. Was it worth it? Yes. The total cost was about $1200, 24 hours of driving and a lot less sleep but the experience was priceless.

Thankful for Kai's love of sports and his athletic abilities–I do love watching him play! That said, I am grateful that we now have six weeks off of hockey ;) 


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