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Fort Macleod Mavericks are Midget D provincial champs

Fort Macleod Mavericks assistant captains Nelz Vance, Jesse Lyke and Brenndon Mackin and captain Brody Zmurchyk accepted the banner from Todd Vance and Gord Lane of Hockey Alberta.

The Fort Macleod Mavericks won the provincial Midget D hockey championship Sunday at the Fort Macleod and District Sports Centre.

Fort Macleod Mavericks overcame the adversity of an opening game loss to win four straight games to claim the Midget D hockey provincial championship Sunday on home ice.
The Mavericks capped an impressive run with a 7-1 win over Horse Lake Thunder, the team that beat the Mavericks on Friday to push them to the brink.
“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” Mavericks head coach Lindsey Rivet said of her team’s dominant performance in the final. “When they play to the best of their ability the entire game, I don’t think many teams can touch them.”
“There’s talent and there’s grinders and when they all work hard it’s just beautiful to watch.”
After losing 4-3 to Horse Lake on Friday, the Mavericks couldn’t lose another game if they wanted a shot at the provincial title.
Rivard let her team know it had its work cut out for it after that first loss.
“I told them it’s not going to come easy,” Rivard said following the championship game. “We’re going to have to work, we’re going to have to fight for everything.”
“No matter what, you can’t take a single team lightly. You’re going to have to work for every second, of every shift, of every game.”
The Mavericks responded with wins over Edson Sabres and Rimbey Renegades on Saturday to place second in their pool.
Fort Macleod knocked off Redcliff Grizzlies in the semifinals before avenging that first game loss by beating Horse Lake 7-1 Sunday afternoon in the title match.
“I’ve told them from Day 1 that you’re a team,” Rivard said. “You win as a team, you lose as a team, you fight as a team. You’ve got to ask yourself, am I working as hard as my teammates and if not, then I’ve got to step it up. And they did.”
Forward Jesse Lyke hadn’t scored in the tournament but on Sunday he exploded for four goals and had a fifth called off on a quick whistle.
Lyke said his plan going into the game was to crash the net and wait for rebounds. The strategy paid off as he was named his team’s most valuable player in the championship game.
“We decided that we were going to play desperate,” Lyke said of the Mavericks strategy for the final game. “Play like we were always losing, play like we were down by two goals.”
Lyke, who is in his second year of Midget hockey, suiting up last season as an underage player, said winning a provincial championship on home ice was significant.
“It means a lot,” Lyke said. “I’m happy we could do it for all the third years.”
Mavericks captain Brody Zmurchyk, who is one of those third-year players, said the provincial championship stands as the No. 1 accomplishment of his Minor Hockey career.
“Playing hockey my whole life I never thought we would be able to do something quite this drastic,” Zmurchyk said. “It’s just wonderful. I’m glad I got to do it here.”
Zmurchyk said his team approached each game with resolve after the first loss, playing a simple, physical game.
The captain was proud of the way his teammates dedicated themselves to the task, but he wasn’t surprised.
“We’ve been through a lot this year with injuries and all that, and it feels amazing to come out with this win.”

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