The St. Albert Advantage Sport Med U16 AA Royals were well represented at Sunday's 2022 Rural Edmonton Minor Hockey League (REMHL) all-star game — the league's first since 2020.
Four Royals players — goaltender Koen Webber, defender Kameron Lawrence, and forwards Pierce Bokenfohr and Hayden Leblanc — along with head coach John Haney, suited up for the game at Grant Fuhr Arena in Spruce Grove, which featured two teams showcasing the best of the best in the REMHL.
The Royals played for the home team in white jerseys, while the visiting team wore blue.
Coach Haney, who served as the home team’s head coach, said it was nice to finally put on an event to reward players for their hard work.
“The kids haven’t had this opportunity for the past couple of years so this will be something they will remember for years to come,” said Haney.
The home team peppered the net early and often, getting way ahead on the shot clock by a 26-3 margin after the first period. Despite this, the away team had the 1-0 lead with a marker from Lucas Vanstone from the CAC Canadians.
Zach Tardiff tied things up early in the second, but it wouldn’t last long as Nolan Frans responded for the away team to restore a 2-1 lead.
Away team starting goaltender, Keegan Perry, exited the game at the halfway point with 31 saves on 32 shots. Webber notched seven saves on nine shots as he exited at the same time.
The goaltender change seemed to spark things for the home side. Tyrin Morgan and Jack Davies got a few quick ones in on the fresh goaltender as the home team took their first lead of the game at 3-2. This opened the floodgates.
James Bothwell added one more before the second ended, while Tardiff added his second of the game and St. Albert’s Leblanc got one of his own. The away team added one marker in the final period, but it wasn’t enough — the home side won it 6-3.
Haney said he was impressed with his players.
“Koen Webber has been sensational all year and he’s really been a leader on the team,” said Haney. “Kameron Lawrence is a very strong defender who can skate quickly and move the puck up-ice and he earned his spot here.
“Our two forwards are very skilled in Pierce [Bokenfohr] and Hayden [Leblanc]. Hayden popped a really nice goal here that showed some nice hands and the two of them are amongst the scoring leaders and certainly earned their place.”
The experience was an all-around positive for the players. While they admitted it was a bit weird to be teammates with players they’ve played against, it was nice to meet them in a new light and work together.
“It’s a bit strange going into it when you’ve been playing against them all year,” said Lawrence. “When you get to know them you realize that they are good guys.”
“It was really good,” said Leblanc. “The game is really organized and it was a good chance to get to know more players.
“It feels awesome. I hadn’t had a game in two years before this season started so it's been awesome and just a great experience.”