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Blog: Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Lions Ready For John Reid Spotlight

The Yale Lions’ Bantam Prep team will be in St. Albert, Alberta this week for the John Reid Memorial Tournament.  Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the John Reid Memorial is an exclusive, premier competition which represents one of the biggest on-ice weeks of the season for Bantam AAA hockey.

Sixteen teams have been invited this year; Yale is one of five teams from British Columbia.  The Lions drew into the “Iginla Pool – C2 Homes Division,” along with Burnaby Winter Club, Calgary Royals and the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.  It is a tough pool for Yale as two of those teams have already won a major tournament this season, but the Lions are ready for the challenge.

“Our group has worked hard in preparation for this tournament,” said head coach Brad Rihela.  “We have played in many pressure situations this season and are ready to take the next step.”

Rihela also praised the team for their work ethic and commitment, describing it as a confidence-builder heading into round robin play this week.  He said the message from the coaching staff is to play fast and dictate the pace in every game.

“We know that when we play this way we are going to generate a lot of chances and put our opponents on their heels,” Rihela added.

Yale has a lot to feel good about after a great month of December.  The Lions scored a dominating 21 goals in four games at the WHL/CSSHL Saskatoon Showcase.  They followed up that performance with a silver medal finish at the Pat Quinn Classic, where Logan Stankoven and Kobe Verbicky were named the tournament’s top scorers, and Graham Sward was named best defenceman.

Returning to the John Reid this year are Sward and team captain Jake Chiasson.  At the John Reid Memorial last year, the two combined for five points in six games.  Their added year of experience will make them a valuable source of leadership in the dressing room this week.

“Having it be my second time going, I’m hoping to contribute more this time – not only on the ice but in the room as well,” said Sward.  “We’ve worked really hard and are excited to showcase what we can do.  It feels a little different from last year but we are prepared to face anything that comes our way – full speed, head on.”

Chiasson echoed Sward’s enthusiasm and said he too hopes to contribute more this year.  He also described a need to set an early tone on and off the ice.

“This is a business environment now,” said Chiasson.  “The year is built up for this tournament so we’re going to have to be all-in with everyone pulling on the rope to get the win.  We’ve had a few great practices since the Pat Quinn Classic and the morale in the room seems to be right where it needs to be to come away with the win this weekend.”

Both Sward and Chiasson were also quick to mention the addition of Parker Bell, who started the season with five points in six games before going down with an injury.  Bell missed both the Rocky Mountain Classic and Pat Quinn Classic.

“Parker will bring some character, speed and skill into our lineup this week,” Chiasson noted, while Sward said he was sure Bell “is excited to get going.”

Yale has had success in past appearances at the John Reid.  In 2016, the Lions were tournament champions, led by now-WHL stalwarts Josh Williams (Medicine Hat Tigers) and Rhett Rhinehart (Prince George Cougars).  Last year, the Lions won silver after taking the championship game all the way to a shoot-out.  Three Yale players won individual awards that year including Ethan Bowen (Tournament MVP), Aidan de la Gorgendiere (Top Defenceman) and Andreai Proctor-Ramirez (Top Goalie).  This year’s team has shown it’s ready to continue the winning tradition.

“Many say that we have underachieved this year, but we’re not letting that take a negative toll on us,” said Chiasson.  “We’re using it as motivation and feel that this is the perfect time to show every team in western Canada what we’re made of.  We’re all excited and we hope to bring back the gold to Yale come Monday!”

The Lions begin the journey on Thursday versus the Calgary Royals.  A detailed schedule can be found below.

Travel safe, play hard and GO LIONS!

LIONS SCHEDULE

JOHN REID MEMORIAL TOURNAMENT
 

  • THURSDAY: 11:15 a.m. – Yale vs. Calgary Royals @ Servus Credit Union Place – Troy Murray Arena
  • FRIDAY: 9:00 a.m. – Yale vs. Los Angeles Jr. Kings @ Go Auto Arena
  • FRIDAY: 5:00 p.m. – Yale vs. Burnaby Winter Club @ Servus Credit Union Place – Mark Messier Arena
  • SATURDAY / SUNDAY: Elimination Games