The Miller Aces 2017-2018 season came to an end this past Friday at Bell MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg.
The Zone 4 High School Hockey League champions lost both their round robin games at the Provincial AAAA High School Hockey Championship.
The Aces gave up four second period goals and dropped a 5-2 decision to the St. Paul Crusaders in their opener and then surrendered three power play goals and one shorthanded marker in a 6-2 loss to the Transcona Titans.
Colton Harder and Kirby Sawatzky scored for Miller against the Crusaders while Andrew Dyck and Ryan Smiley found the back of the net against the Titans.
“The teams we played were really good,” said Aces forward Parker Sawatzky. “Pretty unbelievable skills they had so it was tough for us. The first game didn’t go our way and we didn’t move our feet enough in the second.”
Nine Aces won’t be back next season.
Parker Sawatzky, Colton Harder, Kirby Sawatzky, Rory Penner, Wyatt Henry, Logan Bueckert, Cole Parago, Bronson Toews and Declan Enns will all graduate from W.C. Miller Collegiate this June.
“It’s emotional,” said Miller head coach Rob Smith. “These nine that are graduating really drove the bus for our team. When those guys came onto the team in grade 10, all nine of them made the team. We had some tough decisions we had to make the second year but it was all to make us better this year. When we had all nine of them back this fall, it was just a fantastic year to be around them and to see them lead the team and develop.”
“This team didn’t happen overnight,” added Smith. “It started three years ago and it was 100 and some practices later, and they were all in the Hockey Academy since grade 9. They had to put up with me for 200 and some practices at school when we’re on the ice doing skill development. To see them go is tough.”
There’s a good chance this group of nine has already come to terms that morning practices, the last day before the start of Christmas break holiday matinee game against the Morris Mavericks, weekend trips to tournaments and league playoff games are over.
A new chapter will begin this fall should any of the nine decide to continue with their hockey careers.
“It’s going to be a little bit sad for most of us guys,” said Parker Sawatzky. “We played for three years together and worked hard and ended up winning the Zone. It feels pretty good.”