By Greg Price
Taber bantam “AA” Golden Suns (6-25-4) had its South Central Alberta Hockey League season end over the weekend by dropping two straight in the first round of the playoffs to the Cranbrook Hornets (26-7-2).
The Golden Suns were almost able to pull out the huge upset on Friday night at the Taber Arena, but the Hornets stung Taber with a tally with 53 seconds left to take the first game 5-4.
“We played as good as we could in terms of effort. At the end of the day, we couldn’t pull out the win and do the things you need to do against a very highly-skilled team,” said Bruce Bell, head coach of the Taber bantam “AA” Golden Suns. “But that was one of the best games we played all year, team systems, just energy and everything. The kids played fantastic.”
Mason Sande and Kole Fujita both had two goals apiece with Fujita also drawing two assists. Kolten Heins also had two assists. Bryce Feldbusch and Sande had single helpers. Dalton Demers and Carson Adams combined goaltending efforts and faced 28 shots on net.
Saturday’s contest saw the Golden Suns eliminated from the playoffs officially with an 8-2 loss on the road to the Hornets.
The game was close until the Hornets blew the game open with four unanswered goals in the third period.
“We played them tough the first two periods and we had a couple of rough bounces again,” said Bell. “We did our best and I told the kids after the game they have nothing to be ashamed about. From where we started, going through the journey up until the last game, nothing but positives with a great bunch of kids.”
Sande and Heins both had goals. Heins, Fujita, Kyle Hulit and Haysyn Ostrup drew assists.
Adams took the loss in net, facing 29 shots.
“It was a zero maintenance team. The biggest thing was the kids had fun all year. Our record wasn’t the best, but we kept it pretty loose as a coaching staff and the kids had fun and that’s what hockey should be about,” said Bell of the squad that was split near even of first and second-year players. “In the “AA” system you don’t really want to see the first years back next year because that means they didn’t make ‘AAA’, but if the first years come back, it is definitely a strong base for next year.”