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Turner Sharp earns second Heritage all-star nod

Coaldale Copperheads all-stars, from left: Jayden Smith, Turner Sharp, Jayden Bexte and Levi Anderson.

Turner Sharp is a Heritage Junior Hockey League all-star for the second year in a row.
The 19-year-old defenceman joined three of his Coaldale Copperheads teammates on the South Division team in Sunday’s all-star game at Airdrie.
“I was obviously ecstatic about being picked from my team because there are so many deserving players to choose from,” Sharp said. “I’ve had a good start to my season, focusing more on my defensive game as a whole.”
Jayden Bexte, Levi Anderson and Jayden Smith were also chosen from the Copperheads, who lead the South Division and trail only Airdrie Lightning in the overall standings.
Sharp, who is from Fort Macleod but now living in Lethbridge while he attends Lethbridge College, also made the all-star team last year in his rookie season.
“Last year’s game was an eye-opener due to the extreme competition,” Sharp said of his first turn as an all-star. “You’re playing with the league’s best players and that’s really come into the light as to why they’re there.”
“It’s more competitive than I thought it would be. Playing in a game of this caliber is always fun.”
The Heritage league has teams in Coaldale, Medicine Hat, High River, Cochrane, Strathmore, Okotoks and Lomond in the South Division.
The North Division is made up of Airdrie, Red Deer, Blackfalds, Three Hills, Stettler, Ponoka and Mountainview.
Teams carry players aged 16-20 years, many of whom have played Junior A or in the Western Hockey League. Each team is allowed four 21-year-olds.
Sunday’s all-star game at Airdrie was tied 4-4 after regulation time and went into a seven-player shootout, with the South pulling out the win.
The all-star game was a wide-open affair, with the two squads combining for 98 shots.
“The skill is unbelievable,” Sharp said of the all-star game. “Every guy who is playing in this game could easily be playing at a higher level.”
“Everyone tries their hardest and obviously wants to prove why they’ve been chosen to participate in this game,” Sharp said. “At the end of the day neither side wants to lose.”
Coaldale has a tradition of excellence in the Heritage league, and last year reached the playoff championship before falling in the best-of-three to the Red Deer Vipers.
Coaldale also advanced last season to the provincial championship, where they just missed a shot at winning the title.
“Our team succeeds because we’re a family first,” Sharp said. “Outside of hockey the team is always together and enjoy each other’s company. The work ethic of our squad is also huge.”
“Another part is out leadership group and coaching staff. Both work together really well and believe in the team.”
The Copperheads picked up where they left off this season, posting 23 wins with only four regulation losses and two overtime losses.
Their 48 points has them in first in the South Division, five points in front of Okotoks Bisons.
“There’s a lot of unfinished business within our team,” Sharp said. “Getting to the league final last year was a huge accomplishment but we believed we could have won and we have the same opportunity again this year. No one wants to lose when they’re that close to a championship.”
“Another factor is when we lost our teammate in the middle of the High River playoff series last year,” Sharp said, referring to Morgan Simpson, who died in an accident. “We wanted to win one for our brother and still believe we can.”
Sharp has 20 assists in 24 games this season and is still looking for his first goal. He’s also got 53 penalty minutes.
Sharp played Minor Hockey in Fort Macleod, AA hockey with the Foothills Bisons and Southwest Rockies and Midget AAA with Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Sharp had a chance last season to play Junior A in the Saskatchewan league but stayed close to home to study Criminal Justice at Lethbridge College. He plans to pursue a career in policing with the RCMP.
Sharp is happy with his decision to play for the Copperheads.
“Playing in Coaldale is great because it’s a small town, we have the best fans in the league and want to succeed for them just as much as for ourselves,” Sharp said. “The team becomes your brothers. I’ve met many amazing people and continue to make more life long friends. The HJHL is a good and competitive league. Every day you have to come in and be prepared to work as any team can win on any given night.”

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