Thursday, 19 January 2012 09:40

Eston atom team trains with the Swift Current Broncos

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By Matthew Liebenberg — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

It is a an experience that most young hockey players can only dream about — to have a practice session with a WHL team. That dream became reality for the nine and 10-year-old boys and girls of the Eston Rambler Atoms hockey team on Jan. 15 when they had a skills and drills instructional session with the Swift Current Broncos.

They were also VIP guests at the Broncos game against the Red Deer Rebels the previous evening, where they saw goalkeeper Jon Groenheyde get his first WHL career shutout during the Broncos’ 4-0 win.

Their experience was the prize for winning the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) and Old Dutch Foods 2011/12 Rising Prospects contest.

For Eston Rambler Atoms goalie Hudson Killam, it meant a lot to meet Broncos goalkeepers Groenheyde and Austin Smith.

“It was really fun. I really liked it, meeting the goalies and everything. They taught me a lot.”

Their advice to the young goalie, who will be turning 11 in a few weeks, was to “move out from the net more, move farther out.”

Eston Rambler Atoms Coach Cam Oliphant said it was a good weekend for the players.

“The kids had a lot of fun, a lot of smiles all around,” he mentioned. “It means a lot to them. They look up to all these guys.”

He described Eston as a strong hockey community with a good core of young players.

“There’s the odd year where we have to travel and combine with another small town, but for the most part Eston has its own team,” he said.

The team’s winning entry, which was submitted by Shannon Beckstrand, provides a glimpse into their enthusiasm.

“Our Atom team has a very strong league,” she wrote. “Since we live in a small town, we do not have a lot of players. Last year, we only had two second-year Atom players to play with our first year kids. The kids struggled with making only a few wins in the 2010/2011 year. Although they stayed positive and tried with all their might, they came last in the league.”

She added it would be a fun and exciting opportunity for the players if they won the contest.

“It would boost them up for this upcoming hockey year,” she noted. “It would bring them confidence and a new exciting outlook on the game of hockey. I would really love for them to win this chance to spend a day with the CHL team and keep the fun in hockey.”

This has been the third year Old Dutch partnered with the CHL for the contest.

According to WHL Corporate Partnerships Manager Alyson Chambers it was the first time that the winning team’s training day was with a WHL team.

“Things like this definitely help them stay focused and motivated,” she said. “They can come out, they can see what they can be if they decide to continue in hockey and if not it’s just a lot of fun to come out and hang out with the Broncos and do some drills.”

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