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No goalie? No problem, says St. Albert squad

St. Albert U13 Venoms take silver without a permanent goaltender
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GUEST STARRING — Ryan Wilson, in front, poses for a team photo with the St. Albert Venom. Wilson was one of four goalies brought in as replacements for the Venom, who played the 2021-2022 season without a permanent goalie on their roster. ANDY GEDDES/Photo

A St. Albert minor hockey team placed second in its league this month despite going a whole season without a goalie on their roster.

The St. Albert Venom squad placed second in the Edmonton Federation Hockey League’s U13 Tier 5 Red division March 17. The team played the whole 2021-2022 season without a permanent goalie.

Head coach Andy Geddes said the Venom drafted a goalie in September, but the player’s parents pulled him off the team just a few days before their first game due to concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I scrambled and I talked to the director, and unfortunately there was nothing that could be done,” Geddes said — there simply weren’t any other goalies available.

The result was a season’s worth of paperwork as Geddes had to get authorization to bring in emergency goaltenders from other teams whenever they were available.

“We played three different goalies over five games in the playoffs,” Geddes said.

Ryan Wilson, who plays for the U13 Tier 6 St. Albert Cobras, was one of the four replacement goalies brought in and the one who played the most games. (The others were Grace Balanag, Tyson Reddick, and Georgia Andrews.) Wilson said this sometimes meant he would play two games in one day — one for the Cobras and one for the Venom.

“It was actually really, really fun,” he said of the experience, with both the coach and his adoptive team cheering him on.

“They treated me like I was part of their team from the beginning.”

Geddes said it was a challenging season for the Venom, as they didn’t have a goaltender for about 75 per cent of their practices. He had players put extra emphasis on defence as a result.

Geddes said his players told him this was one of their best seasons yet. It is pretty rare for a team to go a whole season without a permanent goalie, and he hopes his players learned something about resilience from this experience.

“We fought through it and turned it into a good thing.”

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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