The Warman U13A Wildcats celebrate with their banner after winning the provincial championship on home ice March 28 (Gazette photo by Terry Pugh)

The Warman U13A Wildcats claimed the provincial championship on home ice in decisive fashion last week.

After losing the first game 7-4 on the road to the Yorkton Terriers on March 24, the Wildcats rebounded to win the second game 11-2 on Thursday, March 28 in Warman, and followed that up with a 2-0 victory in the 10-minute mini-Game 3, also on March 28.

“It’s been a long journey to get to this point, and we had our ups and downs during the season; but I’m super proud of these players,” said Wildcats head coach Craig Valette. “We have a very special group of kids in U13 right across the board in Warman, and hopefully we have enough room in the rafters for all the banners.”

(So far, Wildcats U13 teams have won the U13AA Female, U13A Female, and U13A provincial championships. The U13AA Wildcats last week won the SAAHL U13 North Division crown and will face off against the Swift Current Broncos for the U13AA provincial championship later this week.)

In last weekend’s first game, the U13A Wildcats grabbed the momentum early in the first period and steadily tightened their grip. Backstopped by goalie Cade Kobelsky, who turned aside 25 of 27 shots; the Wildcats spread out their scoring, getting goals from seven different players.

Kohen Stevens was the big gun for Warman, netting four goals, including two of three first-period markers that set the tone for the rest of the game. Cashton Choumont scored a pair, while Declan McMahon, Covey Markus, Ty Doran, Casen Featherstone and Jake Mayo added singles.

Max Jansen Van Rensburg and Ryker Klemetski replied for Yorkton.

In the third and deciding mini-game, Cashton Chaumont scored the game-winner and insurance goal to ice the victory for the home team in front of a wildly-enthusiastic crowd.

Valette said the key to the championship was getting all the players to buy into a common system.

“We have tons of skill,” said Valette. “It was just a matter of getting everyone to play the same way and making it all gel.”

He said the initial loss in Yorkton didn’t dampen the team’s will to win.

“We just told the kids to stick to the plan and play our game our way,” said Valette. “We told them we don’t need a hero. We need everyone to  pull the rope the same way. In the end, that’s usually who prevails.”

The three early goals in the first period marked the turning point in the game, agreed Valette.

“It makes a big difference,” he said. “We have some high-end guys that found the net early and it gives a boost to the rest of the team. At this age, momentum is such a big factor in how kids feel emotionally, and getting those three quick ones was a big factor.

“It’s also nice to win the championship in our home rink.”