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Edge U18 prep hockey team competes at Mac's for first time

The Edge School's top boys' hockey team embraced the opportunity to compete at the rebooted Mac's U18 AAA Invitational hockey tournament this month.
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The Edge School's U18 prep team competed for the first time at the Mac's Invitational hockey tournament this spring.

The Edge School's top boys' hockey team embraced the opportunity to compete at the rebooted Mac's U18 AAA Invitational hockey tournament earlier this month, ending the four-day tourney as winners of the 'B' bracket. 

While previous version of the Mac's – a prestigious U18 tournament that is held in Calgary the week after Christmas – did not feature teams from private sport schools, this year's rebooted version of the tournament did. 

The Mac's was originally supposed to be held in late December 2021, but was postponed for a second consecutive year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February, organizers announced a rebooted, 24-team version of the tourney would be held in Calgary from April 6 to 10. 

The rebooted tournament saw the inclusion of prep school teams and hockey academy squads for the first time, including the Springbank-based Edge Mountaineers' U18 prep team.

“I think the new committee personnel felt getting sport schools into the Mac’s would be a positive injection into the tournament – you’d be getting the best of the best teams all playing against each other,” said James Poole, the head coach of the Edge U18 team.

Poole added the Edge School has been trying to get a spot in the Mac's for a number of years, and the school's U18 prep players were excited to learn they'd been invited to compete in the rebooted tournament.

“It’s always been the one sacrifice players coming to the Edge have had to make – knowing they wouldn’t get to play in the Mac’s because the Edge wasn’t allowed into the tournament,” he said. “I think every Edge player was extremely excited to hear they’d have that opportunity.”

Competing in the fabled tournament for the first time, the Edge posted a 5-1 record. Poole said the team's sole loss in the round robin put the team out of contention for the 'A' bracket finals.

The team went on to win the 'B' final on April 10, defeating St. George's School 8-4.

“A positive result and good the kids could win their last game [of the season], but obviously it wasn’t quite the result we were looking for or expecting,” he said.

According to Poole, the tournament format was structured to ensure every team played as many games as possible, providing the players the opportunity to be noticed by the many junior-level scouts in attendance.

Given the timing of the reboooted tournament, which was held after the completion of most AAA leagues' season, he said the Mac's made for some interesting outcomes. 

“At the end of the day, it was a weird tournament feel in the sense that everyone’s season was over,” he said. “A number of teams had some players missing who were off with their WHL clubs once their season finished. I think we saw some weird results just based on the fact some teams were really burnt out from long, grinding playoff runs.”

The Edge's head coach added a few of the teams who were expected to do well struggled, as they were missing some of their best players.

“The hockey wasn’t the highest level of hockey – it was a bit sloppy at times – but the tournament was extremely well run," he said.

“It was different – it wasn’t the Christmas version where you have a full house at Max Bell and it’s a packed environment, just being that it was in April, when kids were still in school. It wasn’t the same environment, but the tournament committee did a great job in terms of the amount of volunteers and how the tournament was run. They got a great experience and we’re definitely thankful for that.”

The Medicine Hat-based South Alberta Hockey Academy ended up winning the Mac's tournament, defeating the Vancouver NE Chiefs 4-2 in the 'A' division final on April 10.