By Cole Parkinson
Christmas has come and passed, and a new year has started which means Taber Golden Suns teams are back on the ice and looking to make playoff pushes.
The U13 Suns kicked off their second half with a pair of games this past weekend as they hosted Foothills and Wheatland.
On Saturday, the Foothills Bisons came to town to begin the 2024 portion of the schedule. The Suns scored early and often as they cruised to an 11-4 victory on home ice. Jaxton Rodeback led the way with six assists in the win while Taber saw scoring come from all over the lineup. Ben Van Der Linde had a hat trick and two assists, Hayden Eldridge had two goals and three assists, Lincoln Deleeuw and Marcus Schwartz each had a goal and an assist, Grayson Honess and Jude Klingenberg chipped in a goal and an assist each, Hudson Stenger had a pair of assists, Declan Okell and Travis Jackson each found the back of the net, and Cole Swanson and Barrett DeVlieger both had an assist. Cale Campbell got the start in between the pipes and made 31 saves on 35 shots.
Looking to make it a 2-0 weekend, the Suns lined up against the Wheatland Braves on Sunday afternoon. Eldridge would get the Suns on the board early in the first as the Suns continued to find the back of the net. Wheatland would answer back a few minutes later before Van Der Linde scored his fourth of the weekend. Seconds later, the Braves would retie the game and it would head into the middle frame all square at two.
Wheatland would take an early lead in the first before the Suns would score three straight from Schwartz, Stenger, and Eldridge. Deleeuw, Van Der Linde, Rodeback, Okell, and Cole Bouchard all had an assist in the period. Wheatland would close the game to one before the end of the period and Taber took a 5-4 lead into the third period. Neither team was able to score in the third and the Suns would rattle off another win to start 2024. Drew Tame collected the win in net with a 27 saves performance.
The Suns look to keep rolling this coming weekend with another two games. On Friday night, the Suns hit the road to take on the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The weekend wraps up with a home game on Sunday against the same Hurricanes with puck drop set for 1 p.m.
The U15 Suns have yet to return to the ice for South Central Alberta Hockey League action as they gear up for their first games on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. Both are on the road as they prepare for the West Central Tigers on Jan. 20 and the Red Deer Steel Kings the following day.
The U18 Suns returned to the ice with two games this past weekend. First up was a home game against the NWCAA Bruins. Unfortunately for the Suns, the Bruins rolled into town on a mission as they skated to a 9-0 win. Both Kahil Wright and Keegan Stenger got time in the net with 16 and 26 saves respectively.
Sunday saw the team hit the road for a match against the Foothills Bisons. The Bisons would score the first two of the game before Chase Stronge got Taber on the board with Jett Matisho and Connor Chapman drawing the assists. A few minutes later, the Suns found the tying goal off of Evan Koizumi’s stuck. Dalton Damen and Nathan Rijkens had the assists.
The tie would be broken near the midway mark of the second as Landon Howg scored for Taber and Chapman drew another assist. Just over a minute later, Foothills would tie the game right back up. Undeterred, the Suns would capitalize on the powerplay as Matisho found the back of the net with Stronge and Chapman collecting an assist each.
The Suns took a 4-3 lead into the third and would extend that six minutes into the period thanks to another powerplay goal, this time from Berkley Emelson. The Bisons would battle back though and score a few minutes later to cut the lead to one. With under two minutes to play and shorthanded, the Bisons would tie the game. Neither team was able to find a winning goal as it ended up tied 5-5. Stenger was busy in net as the goalie made 50 saves on 55 shots.
Next weekend, the Suns are back on the ice for two home games against the Medicine Hat Hounds. On Friday night, the game is set for an 8:15 p.m. puck drop while Saturday’s game goes at 8 p.m.