Atom Bearcats teams impress

The two atom female hockey teams in the Estevan Minor Hockey Association impressed during the Schwan Cadillac Cup in Mandan, N.D., on the weekend.

The Estevan Senchuk atom Bearcats went 4-0 during the weekend to win the gold medal, while the Estevan atom Bearcats went 3-1 and finished third.

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The Senchuk Bearcats opened the tournament with a 6-0 shutout victory over Dickinson. Then they doubled up Minot 8-4, and earned another shutout, 17-0, over Watford City. Their final game was an 8-3 win over the host Mandan team in what proved to be the unofficial gold medal game.

Coach Shawn Madsen said the games against Minot and Mandan were closer than what the score indicated.

“You see some scores like that, and you sometimes think that was an easy game. No, they weren’t easy games,” said Madsen. “You get a few late goals, and it makes the score look a little differently than the game actually was.”

Madsen was pleased with how they pressured the opponents in all ends of the rink throughout the tournament.

“If they have the puck, go get it. And it’s been paying off. Right from the beginning of the season, that’s what we’ve been trying to drill into them,” Madsen said.

It was also tough considering they hadn’t seen any of the American teams previously.

“We went down there not knowing what to expect. You go down there playing some teams that you’re obviously very unfamiliar with, because you don’t see them very often. You don’t get to play against U.S. teams.”

It means they have to approach each game believing they’re playing the best team they’ve ever faced.

The atom Bearcats beat the Senchuk Bearcats in the final of last year’s tournament, so Madsen said it was nice to win gold this year.

The atom Bearcats won their first game of the tournament 19-0 over Watford City, but then lost 4-3 to Mandan. They recovered to win their final two games, 8-1 over Minot and 8-0 over Dickinson.

“They played really well, with the exception of maybe a little bit in which the wheels feel off against Mandan. But they came back in the next game and they played really well,” said coach Wade Grimes.

Grimes was pleased with how the players skated and shot the puck. Everybody had scoring chances, and they wanted to win.

“We haven’t played some games for a few weeks now, so getting back into it and playing, they did well,” Grimes said.

The tournament used a round robin to determine the champion, although the six teams only had four games each, which meant they didn’t play one of the teams. The Estevan teams didn’t play each other.

While there wasn’t a gold medal game at the end of the tournament, the game between the Senchuk Bearcats and Mandan was a gold medal game, since whoever won that game would win gold.

“We controlled our own destiny. It was us,” said Madsen. “It was the girls who were on the ice. All they had to do was go out and work their tail off and win the game, and we win the tournament. You don’t have to rely on somebody else doing the work for you.”

Both Grimes and Madsen hope this result will give their teams some momentum as they return to league play.

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