There are some moments in life that are unforgettable and when the Waterloo Wolves arrive in Sault Ste. Marie for the Air Canada Cup hockey tournament April 21-27, Randy Harbach will remind his team about the importance of seizing the moment.
After all, it isn’t too often you get to compete for the national midget AAA hockey championship and it took the words of NHL scout Jamie MacDonald to remind Harbach about just how special this tournament is.
“We went to a Kitchener Rangers game the other night and I was talking to a scout I know (MacDonald) and
he was saying ‘do your boys realize how big this is, that the Air Canada Cup is the Stanley Cup of minor
“He said this will be the biggest tournament by far of their minor hockey career so they better take it all in.”
It will also be one of the biggest moments in the history of the Alliance, which, according to Harbach, will be making its first trip to the national event. He said most of the previous entries have come from the Toronto area.
The Wolves, who boast a lot of depth throughout their lineup, earned a trip to the nationals by beating Sudbury 3-2 in the championship game at the provincial round-robin tournament.
The Wolves have come a long way in one short year as this season marked their return to midget AAA action after a year away from it. They advanced to the provincials by beating the Mississauga Rebels 7-5 in their regional playdowns.
“From what I’m told, this is the first time and Alliance has qualified for this tournament,” Harbach said.
The Wolves’ lineup features a balanced scoring attack as evidenced by the fact that eight players scored 20 goals or more this season. They_re led by T.J. Parkes, who scored 50 goals, Ben Moser and Jeff Harbach, who scored 40 apiece, three other players with 30 goals each and two with 20.
That probably explains why the Wolves were able to emerge out of the provincials, despite being without team captain Blake Voisin and Pat Keller. Both will be out of action at the nationals, Voison due to a shoulder operation and Keller because of a broken wrist. In their absence, 17-year-old forward Duncan Snyder is expected to assume a bigger leadership role.
In addition, goaltender Shaun Pascoe is also expected to play a vital role.
“We’re a good skating team but we can adapt and we won_t back down from anyone,” Harbach said. “We’re certainly not afraid to get our noses dirty.”
For the nationals, the Wolves’ lineup will feature six 15-year-olds in regulars Jeff Harbach, Zac Bauman, Scott Voison and Matt Rennie and callups Kody Yoshy and Brock Schultz, who both played for the Waterloo Wolves minor midget team.
“We’re pretty well balanced,” said Randy Harbach. “We don’t have any real superstars and it seems that someone different is our top forward on any given night. I roll 11 forwards so I basically play four lines regularly. One night one line leads the way, the next night it’s someone else.”
Randy said the fact his team played without Blake Voison at the provincials and was able to survive, has given them the confidence they can win without their team captain. He said his team is averaging five goals a game this season while allowed two goals a game.