The Airdrie Cochrane Athletic Association (ACAA) covers a huge geographic area but they came together earlier this month to celebrate the accomplishments of players from three teams in the association.
Members of the Airdrie CFR "AAA" Midget Bisons, the Minor Midget "AAA" AC Avalanche and the Airdrie "AAA" Bantam Xtreme, their coaches, family, friends and fans came out for the awards banquet. But Dustin Taylor, the Head Coach of the Bisons, says the night was more than just about awards.
"It's bringing this culture of excellence that we're trying to build within this association. We're bringing all these three teams together so that the younger players, part of the Xtreme and the Avalanche, can see what the aspirations are to become a Bison one day," says Taylor. And also for the Bisons current members to help out with these younger kids and just kind of show that motive of inspiration for the kids."
The Airdrie Cochrane Athletic Association is aptly named. The draw zone encompasses an area from Banff and Canmore east to Beiseker and north to Trochu. Taylor says bringing everyone together under the umbrella of the ACAA can be a bit of a logistical nightmare but is also very rewarding.
"It's one of the elements that we have as an advantage over associations that aren't necessarily as large. To have that other aspect to make it within such a big area actually adds another level of reward to actually make these teams.
Taylor recently agreed to another season as the Bisons Head Coach. During the banquet, the team gave out 10 awards and two players, Tristan Zandee and Ty Mueller shared two of the top awards, Top Scorer and Rookie of the Year. That isn't all they share though. Both have recently committed to play NCAA Division One hockey starting in the 2022-2023 season, Zandee with Colorado College and Mueller with the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Taylor says it's incredible and almost unheard of to have players at the first year Midget level receive full scholarships to NCAA Division One.
"It's a true testament to these individuals for what they're able to accomplish on the ice and who they are as people. It's also huge for our program to showcase, 'here's what we have that is part of our association,' but also what we've been able to do to help those players achieve their dreams."
Here's a list of the rest of the award winners from all three teams.
MVP - Ty Mueller
Most Improved - Owen Lugowski and Ben Lake
Top Defensive Forward - Ty Mueller
Top Defenseman - Damon Agyeman
Mark Norman Hardest Working Bison - Jett Jones
Neil Glionna Award for Dedication, Perseverance, and Sportsmanship - Jackson Wade
Markus Lavallee CFR Chemical Memorial Scholarship - Jackson Wade
Alberta Midget Hockey League Scholarship - Ben Nemish
MVP - Shaw Cathcart
Heart Award - Caden Stephensen
Most Improved Player - Noah Goodwin
Coaches Choice - Top Defensive Forward - Alex Bend
Top Scorers - Riley Westlund, Aidan Dornbos, Owen Jones
Top Forward - Riley Westlund
Heart and Hustle - Riley Westlund
Best Defenseman - Jace Moffatt
Most Improved Player - Grady Hauk
Harry Smart Memorial Trophy - Mathias Bessey
Vic Wiebe MVP - Zach Zahara
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