Vermilion Jr. B Tigers Head Into Playoffs In 1st Place
For the first time in 20 years, the Vermilion Jr. B Tigers won the North Eastern Alberta Junior B Hockey League, and headed into playoffs in 1st place. The Tigers won playoff game one 10-0. A clean game, Vermilion only had two penalties and 47 additional shots, while Vegreville had only 19. Vermilion’s goals included two each for Conner Roscoe, Ryan Nelson, and Landon Petiot; and one each for Andrew Beres, Ethan Nelson, Ryder Kenyon, and Brodie Johnson.
They hosted the Vegreville Rangers for games one and two on February 16, and 18th.
Head Coach, Danny Haygarth, said looking back Vermilion won the Championship in 2008, but finished 5th in the league and went on to win playoffs. Being more than 20 years since they finished 1st in the regular season, he said it’s quite the accomplishment.
“It’s an accomplishment we are very proud of; the boys worked very hard this year to achieve that. You always strive to be the best, and we’ve come a long way since the start of the year. We are going to have home-ice advantage throughout the whole playoffs,” said Haygarth. “The boys have all bought into the team side of things; everyone is working hard for one another. They are playing for the crest on the jersey, not the name on the back. All 22 guys have total buy-in - they are a really tight group of guys, and when you have that kind of comradery in the dressing room you are going to have a successful team.”
They are not a big club said Haygarth, but a smaller, faster team who like to move the puck, and once they get the puck they don’t like to give it away. This team is committed; he said they are putting in the time and seeing the results by playing to their strengths and utilizing one another. Not everyone is going to score, but he said each person has a job to do, and they don’t want to let their teammates down.
“Everyone loves to win, but these guys have figured out that to do that, they need to work hard,” said Haygarth.
The team is pretty pumped for playoffs, but they know it’s going to take 12 wins no matter what they accomplished in the regular season. Haygarth said there is still growth in their team, and they still haven’t peaked yet.
Because they got their systems down in the regular season as they head into playoffs, he said they will spend time identifying what other teams are doing to them and refine what they try to teach all year. They start playing every second night, so they aim to keep healthy as well. He said they hope to win games one and two against Vegreville and get the playoffs started on the right foot.
“We anticipate playing in the final and winning the league; we want to be champions. We haven’t played at home in about a month, so I hope we get some people out. When it comes to playoff hockey and you have a full crowd of people cheering, it does help your team out,” said Haygarth. “Thank you to our sponsors and all our fans; we’ve had very good support from the community. It’s fans and sponsors that keep our team rolling. It’s been a lot of fun coming out for the first year. I didn’t know what to expect, and I couldn’t ask for a better team to work with; from the board to the assistant coaches, the manager, and the team – we are all on the same page, and we work well together. And to the fans going into playoffs, I hope they’ll be entertained.”