All Peace Hockey League bring back the All-Star game

Left to right: Zachary Ramteemal and Dane Gall battle for space in front of Team Blue goaltender Andre Giesbrecht during the All Peace Hockey League All-Star game at the Crosslink County Sportsplex on Sunday morning. Team Blue picked up a 6-4 win over Team White in the league’s first all-star game in approximately three decades Gordon Anderson / Daily Herald Tribune

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For the All Peace Hockey League, this past weekend was an occasion to welcome back an old, unfamiliar friend.

The APHL held its first all star-game in three decades as Team Blue defeated Team White 6-4, in the league’s midget all-star event at the Crosslink County Sportsplex on Sunday morning.

For the league president, Peter Burletoff, the memories of the last all-star game came littered with the cobwebs of days long past, when he wasn’t affiliated with the league in his current position.

“The first all-star game dated back to the late 1980s and was dropped because the executive kept changing, year after year, with no consistency, and probably a lack of interest from some of executive members, as well,” Burletoff said.

Team Blue jumped out to a 4-0 lead after 20 minutes and held a 5-2 lead after two periods of play.
Cue the comeback for the lads in white as two goals brought them to withing one at 5-4 but an empty-net goal with 45 seconds remaining iced the game for the boys in blue.

“I thought we came out with some pretty good jump and probably caught them a little off guard,” Team Blue Head Coach Simon Juckes said. Juckes is the head coach of the High Level Tier II squad. “They looked a little tentative while our pace was good in the first period. We were able to grab that lead and hang on. We expected it to be tight. The teams were put together in that fashion so we could have a competitive game and it turned out that way.”

The Grande Prairie Knights Tier I squad was represented by forward Tyson Gagnon and defencemen Ethan Sauder and Zachary Ramteemal.

“It was an amazing experience to be (involved) in this, with the last one being over 30 years ago,” Ramteemal said. “It’s great they brought it back and got it going.”

For Your Information

Perhaps, part of the mission in pairing with the NWJHL Showcase weekend was to introduce the APHL to a wider audience, give it more profile.

As Burletoff explains, it’s not a far-flung league playing games in outdoor rinks with analogue score clocks.

“We want to get that message out, so people understand (that) the APHL is a good hockey league, it’s not a bush league, it’s not league where players go out and shoot the puck around,” Burletoff said. “It’s a well-organized league.”

The league begins in the Atom age group and continues to Midget, accepting both male and female players.

“We have 26 associations, going up north to La Crete, stretching (west) to Fort St John and Dawson Creek and as far south as Grande Cache,” Burletoff said. “(There are) 119 teams, that’s just over 2,000 players in the APHL with about 420 coaches.”

True hockey intentions

For the All Peace Hockey League (APHL), it’s important the league gives all its players a fighting chance at something else, something more substantive.

With that firmly in mind, the league held its first midget-aged all-star game in about three decades, as Team Blue defeated Team White 6-4 at the Crosslink County Sportsplex on Sunday morning.

APHL President Peter Burletoff believes the league possesses a number of midget-aged players who are—without putting limits on any hockey player’s ability—good enough to play in the North West Junior Hockey League (NWJHL).

Perhaps beyond that, given the right time and circumstances.

“We have a lot of talent in the APHL, where some of these (players) don’t have the opportunity to come (and play) for the Grande Peace Athletic Club or go to Peace River to play elite hockey in their AA program,” Burletoff said. “With) travel, cost and logistically, (sometimes) it’s not feasible.”

“I think it’s a great idea and our president was really the driving force behind (the all-star game) as it’s something that hasn’t been here (since) I’m not sure in how many years,” Team Blue Head Coach Simon Juckes added. “It’s a great opportunity for the players.”

County of Grande Prairie Kings Head Coach and General Manager Kyle Chapple was in the fray near the dressing rooms following the game, chatting with players about possible affiliation with his club.

“There is hockey after midget (for our players),” Burletoff said. “If you can’t make a Jr. A club there is Jr B. hockey, (the NWJHL) is a great hockey league. It’ s important to showcase these players.”

For the Team Blue representative and Grande Prairie Knights defender, Zachary Ramteemal, the game is a means to an end. Hopefully, for the 16-year-old student at St. Joe’s, a better end.

“(I’m) always looking to move on in (my) career, always looking to another shot at something bigger,” Ramteemal said.

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