Monday, 26 February 2018

FLASHBACK: A Golden Hawk History for Pyeongchang Combatants

Lethbridge Hurricanes fans had a couple of reasons to tune into the Olympic men's hockey tournament.

The obvious was Rob Klinkhammer, who helped Canada pick up a bronze medal. The other was the hope to see Juha Metsola suit up for Finland, but that wasn't the case as he was the third in line to get in the crease.

READ MORE: Klinkhammer's Journey from Lethbridge to Pyeongchang

But Lethbridge hockey fans had a third reason to tune in.

Sparwood's Daryl Boyle was part of the German contingent that shocked Klinkhammer and his teammates in the semi-final. The two actually have quite the history, dating back to their days with the Lethbridge Val Matteotti Bantam AAA Golden Hawks.

In talking to the Lethbridge Herald over the weekend, Klinkhammer said he saw his old friend Boyle in the lineup shaking hands, wished him luck and told him to go beat the Russians, which as we all know didn't come to fruition.

Thanks to a random phone call from Jordan on Saturday night, a conversation was had about that 2001-2002 Golden Hawks team. And for those of you who know hockey, you probably remember that team well.

The names on that roster are pretty hard to forget after all. Klinkhammer, Boyle, Kris Versteeg, Devin Setoguchi and Judd Blackwater all stand out, but they were also getting right around a point-a-game from Kyle Nason, Brodie Sheahan and Scott Linton. TJ Howg and Jayce Bryant split the goaltending duties.

Make no mistake about it, the team was talented. In January 2002, the Golden Hawks busted through a bit of a scoring slump to win the Premier Cup tournament that they were hosting. By the end of February, they had clinched a playoff spot and finished the season with a 22-9-6 record, good enough for third place in the South Division. They were set for a roadtrip to Fort Saskatchewan for provincial playdowns in mid-March.

But then the archives go silent. Flipping through the pages of the Herald in the days following the March 17-19 tourney, nothing was said.

Nothing that I could find anyways.

As it turns out, it might have been for good reason. The Golden Hawks ended up losing in the semi-finals to the Medicine Hat Hockey Hounds. The Gas City squad was led by Cole Geddes, who netted a hat trick in that game, and Kevin Undershute and Jerrid Sauer, who went on to play with their hometown Tigers, as well as Adam Wright, Riley Jones and goaltender Cole Anderson, who all went onto play AJHL hockey.

The Hounds turned around and lost a heartbreaker in the final, 4-2 to the Red Deer Chiefs. That Chiefs team had the likes of future WHLers Ted Vandermeer and Kyle Pess as well as AJHLers AJ Nelson and Scott McCulloch. Their goaltender was Colin Stebner, who played some post-secondary and Heritage League hockey.

That's not to dispute the talent of the teams the Golden Hawks played against at that time. But when you look back at that roster and how everyone turned out, it was one heck of a graduating class. But many believe that Lethbridge squad was one of the best that didn't go on to win a league championship.

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