Atom Flyers off to Provincial championships

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INNISFAIL – The Innisfail Atom A DQ Flyers recently earned their way to the provincial championships later this month.

The team took the Zone 4 Atom A title after defeating Wetaskiwin 11-2 in a tournament on Feb. 25 at the Innisfail Arena.

They will represent Zone 4 at the provincial championships in High River March 16-19.

“We’re very excited about the win. This team’s worked so hard going into a Tier 1 division,” said Ryan Dodd, head coach. “They’ve built such an amazing team camaraderie and the kids have come together really well, especially towards the end of the season.”

The Atom A DQ Flyers had several victories against Devon and Blackfalds teams before facing a tough Wetaskiwin squad.

“Our boys came out flying and we got up 4-0 in the first game,” said Dodd. “Then (we) ran into some penalty troubles and Wetaskiwin really poured it on in the second half of the game and came back.”

They took Game 1, 6 – 5.

“We knew we had a job to do coming back here for our final game,” said Dodd, noting fatigue had set in during the first period of Game 2. “We didn’t have the best first period and we went into the dressing room down 2-1 (after 20 minutes).

“They came out firing in the second half and we won the game 11-2,” he added. “The boys held Wetaskiwin to just nine shots on net.”

The team has also had a successful season thus far.

“The kids, the coaching staff and team manager we have are absolutely unreal,” said Dodd. “They bring so much to the team. We keep the kids motivated and keep them playing.

“The heart and desire in that dressing room is huge.”

Dodd said he understands how his team is feeling after clinching a spot to the provincials. He himself played at the provincial championships twice in his minor hockey career – at the atom level and again in midget.

“It’s a life experience that you just never forget. It creates a real bond between players, family members and coaches,” said Dodd. “For these kids to go and be able to make it to this tournament should be a sense of pride for all of them.”

Dodd said the Innisfail Atom A DQ Flyers have what it takes for a great run at the provincial championships in High River this month.

“We’ve got such a great character group of kids,” said Dodd. “Heart and desire, the want and the will to win carries you so far, and these kids have it all.”

Ryan Dodd, head coach

“It’s a life experience that you just never forget.”

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Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean is a reporter with the Innisfail Province, joining the newspaper in 2013. She covers Penhold municipal politics, news and community events as well as sports in and around the town as well as in Innisfail.