Local players have helped the Yellowhead Chiefs midget AAA teams get off to strong starts this season.
As of Sunday, both Chiefs squads sit second in their respective standings. With a 7-2-0-3 record, the female team had 17 points in the standings. They were four points behind the Westman Wildcats in the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League.
The male Chiefs had a 14-5-2-0 record. Their 30 points put them six behind the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League-leading Winnipeg Wild.
Chiefs male team head coach Chad Facey said the team is really happy with its start.
“Some of the strengths for this year’s team would be ourdepth,” Facey said. “We believe everyone will contribute this year and just how hard these kids work.”
Parker Johnson is a veteran 17-year-old forward for the Chiefs. The Elkhorn product split last season between Yellowhead and the Swan Valley Stampeders of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. This season he has 10 goals and 19 points in 21 games.
“Parker is a very strong skater with a good shot and can do some very creative things with the puck,” Facey said.
Colby Joseph is also from Elkhorn. The 15-year-old, who has a December birthday, has played forward and defence for the Chiefs.
“Colby is a great skater and is very hard on the puck,” Facey said. “He is a very effective two-way player.”
Jake Poole leads the Chiefs with 15 goals and 31 points. The 16-year-old forward is from McAuley.
“Jake wants the puck,” Facey said. “He is a very strong puck handler and very good at working in tight spaces.”
Manson’s Bray Rookes is a 16-year-old defenceman in his second season with the team. He has 10 assists this season.
“Bray is a very good skating D-man with a big shot from the point,” Facey said. “He is very strong and wins his battles in the corner. He lives to jump up in the rush.”
The female Chiefs have three area players who have helped them be successful this season.
Virden’s Avery Richard is the team’s lone true rookie defenceman. The 15-year-old has played in all 12 games so far and has great potential with significant size and strength.
“Avery is contributing to the success of the Chiefs defence early in this season, but, as for most rookies, there is always an initial adjustment to the quick pace of the MFMHL, even more so for defencemen,” manager Jim Barscello said on behalf of the coaching staff. “Expectations will have her physically dominate around the net, contribute to the overall Chiefs defensive posture, and grow her offensive skills.”
Oak Lake’s Anita Vachon is a 16-year-old rookie forward. She has two goals and six points this season.
“She is a gritty and determined forward,” Barscello said. “She plays an aggressive game and skates well. Expectations have her contributing to the Chiefs scoring, on the forecheck and on the penalty kill.”
Fourth-year player Monet Mazawaicuna, 17, leads the Yellowhead blue line with quiet confidence. The Sioux Valley/Oak Lake area product is a very smooth skater, who can turn very tightly and is elusive when carrying the puck, Barscello said.
“She doesn't put up a significant amount of points, however is known to score during critical games and times, moreover she developed into a clutch player last year during the playoffs,” the manager said. “Her physical game and body positioning has drastically improved over the last year. She has worked hard to become a complete defenceman package. She is highly ranked among the league and made it to the top 40 for the provincial U18 team.”