Under-15 Thunder hockey team wins division championship

By Rob Vogt
The Claresholm Under-15 Thunder returned home from weekend action in the Central Alberta Hockey League with the Tier-3 White Division championship.
After a first round bye, by virtue of finishing first in the regular season, the Thunder began their playoff run with a best-of-three series against a combined team from Bow Island and Foremost.
Claresholm hosted Game 1 on Sunday, Feb. 19, recording a 7-3 victory, to take a 1-0 series lead.
The teams were tied 2-2 after 20 minutes, and Claresholm led 4-3 after two periods, before scoring three unanswered goals in the third period to cruise to victory.
Scoring for the Thunder were Easton Wright, assisted by Bergen Flynn and Kieran Pothegadoo; Kieran Pothegadoo, assisted by Kaden Pothegadoo and Joseph Martin; Dallyn Blake, assisted by Flynn; Flynn, assisted by Micah Rice; Kaden Pothegadoo, assisted by Josh Gibson-Morrison and Simon Kohut; Rice, assisted by Flynn and Cody Tompkins; and Grady Smith, assisted by Kohut.
Goaltender Finn Buhmiller turned aside 18 shots for the win in net.
The teams travelled to Bow Island for Game 2 on Wednesday, Feb. 22, which Claresholm won 12-2 to sweep the series.
Claresholm used an eight-goal second period to break the game open and advance to the division final.
Scoring for the Thunder were Kaden Pothegadoo, assisted by Rice; Martin, assisted by Flynn; Rice, unassisted; Martin, assisted by Kieran Pothegadoo; Gibson-Morrison, on the power play, assisted by Blake Cisar and Kaden Pothegadoo; Kieran Pothegadoo on the power play, assisted by Seannon Ocampo; Cisar, assisted by Tompkins and Kieran Pothegadoo; Flynn, unassisted; Kaden Pothegadoo on the power play, assisted by Kieran Pothegadoo and Blake; Cisar, assisted by Smith; Kieran Pothegadoo, unassisted; and Kieran Pothegadoo on the power play, assisted by Martin.
Goaltender Tyce D’Agnone made 11 saves for the win in net.
Awaiting Claresholm in the division final was Coaldale, who defeated Picture Butte in the other semi-final series.
The series opened in Claresholm on Saturday, Feb. 25, with a 4-1 victory by the hometown Thunder.
Claresholm jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Joseph Martin, assisted by Jace Campbell; Bergen Flynn, assisted by Dallyn Blake; and Kieran Pothegadoo, unassisted.
Coaldale would get one goal back to make the score 3-1 after 20 minutes, but that was as close as they would get.
The teams went back and forth in what looked to be a scoreless second period, until Martin scored with just 3.9 seconds left in the period to make the score 4-1 after 40 minutes.
There would be no further scoring as Claresholm took a 1-0 series lead after the Game 1 win.
Goaltender Finn Buhmiller made 34 saves for the win in net.
The teams were back on the ice for Game 2 in Coaldale on Sunday, Feb. 26.
It was a nail biter to the end, as the teams locked into a defensive struggle.
Thee was no scoring in the first period, or the second.
Both teams had their chances but it was Joseph Martin who finally broke through with what turned out to be the game and series-winning goal with just under 10 minutes to play. He was assisted by Dallyn Blake.
Coaldale pressed for the tie, but goaltender Tyce D’Agnone held firm, making 20 saves for the shut out victory.
The win gave Claresholm the 2-0 victory in the series and the championship banner.
The Thunder now await who they will play as they move on in their bid to qualify for the provincial championship tournament in Tofield.

The Claresholm Under-15 Thunder won the championship of the Central Alberta Hockey League Tier-3 White Division with a thrilling 1-0 win in Coaldale on Sunday, Feb. 26. Photo submitted