Two hockey players from Airdrie had the chance to represent the city at the 2019 Western Hockey League (WHL) Cup, held Oct. 23 to 27 in Calgary.
The annual WHL Cup boasts the top U16 prospects from Canada’s four western provinces. This year, Airdrie’s Jaren Brinson and Josh Davies received the call, taking to the ice at Calgary’s Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport for Team Alberta.
“It was a great experience,” said Brinson, a 15-year-old defenceman with the Edge Mountaineers midget prep team. “There were a lot of kids trying out that wanted to be on that team, and it was a great [tournament], because it was the top 20 players from each province on the teams.”
Coming into the 2019 WHL Cup, Alberta had enjoyed a dynasty of sorts, winning the four previous tournaments.
That run came to an end this year, however, as Alberta was kept off the podium, ultimately finishing in fourth place. After winning its first three games, the host team faltered in the semi-finals against Saskatchewan, losing 5-3. Saskatchewan would later take gold, ousting Manitoba in the championship game.
Alberta then lost 5-4 in overtime against British Columbia in the bronze-medal game.
“It wasn’t our goal, but we had a very strong round-robin,” Brinson said. “Saskatchewan was a great team, and so was B.C. It was a very even tournament.”
Despite playing on the blue line, Brinson enjoyed his share of offence, firing home one goal and tallying two assists.
“I think we had a great coaching staff – they really set our roles in stone,” he said. “We just had to play our roles and not try to do too much.”
Davies recorded the same number of points, scoring twice and chipping in with an assist.
Prior to Brinson's time on Edge’s midget prep team, which competes in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League (CSSHL) – a nation-wide league for elite private school teams – the Prince George Cougars selected him in the second round the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft.
Davies, who previously played for the Edge but moved to Victoria this year to join the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy, was also drafted by a WHL team last year – the 15-year-old was selected in the third round by the Swift Current Broncos.
Brinson said making the move up to the WHL next year in his first year of eligibility for junior hockey would be an ideal scenario.
“That’s definitely my goal, to be in Prince George next year, but I’ll have to weigh all my options,” he said. “Prince George is a first-class organization and it would obviously be amazing to play there as a 16-year-old.”
Until then, he’ll focus on the Edge Mountaineers. Eleven games into the 2019-20 season, the team is in fifth place in the midget prep division, with a 6-3-2 record.
“We’re a good team – we have some depth,” said Brinson, who has recorded five assists this season. “We have two returning players who bring a lot of leadership to our team, and they give us the motivation to be better every day.
“We’re in a playoff spot right now, although there’s a lot of season left. We have depth on our team and we’re looking good so far.”