By Lethbridge Herald on December 21, 2023.
By Justin Seward
The Val Matteoti Golden Hawks U15AAA hockey team had a strong stretch of games prior to the Christmas break that has helped them improve in certain areas of their game moving forward.
“I think we feel pretty good about things going into the break,” said head coach Mitch Maxwell.
“We had a little bit of a hiccup there at the start of the year, just kind of a little bit of a slide there for a second. But in our last 10 games, we’ve been a lot stronger, ended on a bit of a positive note climbing back up to .500.”
The Golden Hawks have been entrenched in close games in that 10 game stretch.
“Every game we’ve played in has been a one or two goal game,” said Maxwell.
“I think we’ve had one three-goal game all year but everything else has been one-goal games, or empty netters, or one way or the other, whether it was won games or lost games, it’s been very tight. So just kind of learning how to win those close games has been (a) really good experience for our kids, and our team and for us as coaches as well (in) just kind of how to manage everything together.”
Maxwell has seen the club’s special teams improve over the last month.
“Our penalty kill has been amazing, probably one of our staples of our season,” said Maxwell.
The team getting closer ,in Maxwell’s mind, has been the biggest improvement.
“That’s probably been our biggest improvement,” he said.
“We have a very deep team with a lot of really good character kids and so they’ve just kind of gelled and learned and got to know each other better.”
Kutcher Aquila and Lincoln Eaves have been consistent offensively.
“They’re drivers for their lines,” said Maxwell.
Maxwell said Damen Vanderberg’s been a huge addition.
“He’s putting the puck in the net at a great rate,” he said.
Maxwell felt the defencemen have improved a lot.
The Golden Hawks have a 7-7-0-2-1 record and sitting in seventh place and in a playoff spot at the break.