Seeing as they are the defending Senior Provincial A champions and have captured three Fort Carlton Hockey League championships in the last four years, the Shellbrook Elks are looking for more of a challenge.
This year, the Elks will vie for a Senior AAA provincial championship and will hope to make it to the Allen Cup, the top national senior men’s hockey tournament.
“The Shellbrook Elks are finally bucking up and going Senior AAA this year,” said Elks forward Bret Peppler. “It’s high level hockey, there’s going to be a lot of good players out there. It should be exciting.”
The Elks will still be playing in the Fort Carlton league during the season, but will take a step up in competition during the provincial stages, including teams from Rosetown, Balgonie and Lloydminster.
But before all that, the Elks will test themselves against a team that has already guaranteed themselves a spot at the Allen Cup, the Bentley Generals who are hosting the tournament in Red Deer.
The Elks will welcome the Generals for an exhibition game in Shellbrook on Nov. 3, one with a lot of importance behind it.
“That will be a very big game,” said Peppler. “It’s just an exhibition game, but it will be a nice game to play against those guys because they’ll have a pretty good team.
“We want to fill that rink in Shellbrook Nov. 3 and hopefully we got a lot of local fans out from PA and the surrounding area. That would be nice to get fans for that.”
Fans can see some former Prince Albert Raiders like Aki Seitsonen, who lead the Fort Carlton league in scoring last year, Luke Fritshaw and current Raiders goalie coach Kelly Guard. Also suiting up for the Elks are Hugh Hamilton, who won an IIHF World Junior Championships gold medal with Team Canada back in 1997, Chris Thompson and Matt Swaby.
“I think we should have a good team,” said Peppler, who played in the Southern Professional Hockey League for three years and ACAC hockey for another five. “We’ve got a lot of good players on our team, a lot of ex-pro and college and junior guys. It should be a fun ride to try out and see what happens.”
Peppler added that for provincials, teams can add another ten players to their roster.
The puck drops at the Shellbrook Skating Arena at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
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