Photo courtesy of Derek Leung
CFR Chemicals Bisons’ centre Peyton Krebs captained Team Alberta to a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Team BC in the Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup Oct. 23 evening at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.
“I’m pretty ecstatic right now,” said Krebs, an Okotoks product.
The Challenge Cup featured the highest-rated under-16 kids from B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Krebs shared the captaincy with Kirby Dach, a Fort Saskatchewan native.
“Those two players are two good leaders, good friends and they have the pulse of this group,” said Team Alberta head coach Bram Stephen.
“It’s definitely an honour, for sure, there’s not many guys that get to do it who are my age,” said Krebs. “This team was pretty awesome, anyone could have been a leader. We came together as one quickly.”
Carter Chorney popped in the overtime winner 31 seconds in to capture Alberta’s third consecutive title, dating back to 2013. The event was not hosted in 2014 due to the Canada Winter Games.
It was a treat for Krebs, winning the championship on home soil, mere kilometres from his hometown.
“It’s nice having home fans here, Calgary is a nice city and it’ll be nice to bring this back to Okotoks and Strathmore,” said Krebs, who added an assist in the final.
He racked up two goals and six points in four games as Alberta went undefeated. For his efforts, he was selected to the all-star team in his first taste of hockey on the big stage.
“It was a great feeling. There were so many good players; the competition was unbelievable. This was a high-class tourney and it was a great battle by BC,” said Krebs.
While Krebs will tell you his proudest moment was the overtime victory, he was instrumental in orchestrating a buzzer-beating goal over Team Saskatchewan with 2.8 seconds remaining.
“That Saskatchewan goal was definitely a burst of adrenaline, but nothing can beat this. Winning the tournament is what we came here to do and it was my first priority,” said Krebs, who donned number 18 for the tourney.
“He is a big game player. As the game gets tighter, he gets better. I think he learned a little bit about the four-line game in this tourney,” said Stephen, who is the head coach at MacEwan University. “He is a remarkable person off the ice and he’s incredibly, incredibly stubborn to be the best. That’s going to serve him well over his career.”
Krebs was selected first overall by the Kootenay Ice in the 2016 Bantam Draft. He suited up against future Ice teammates in Jesse Makaj (goaltender, Team BC) and Blake Allan (forward, Team Saskatchewan).
With the Bisons active over the weekend, Krebs was forced to monitor from the outside. The Bisons still managed a pair of wins, pushing their undefeated start to the season to 8-0.
“It’s good to see that the streak is alive, I’m looking forward to getting back to Strathmore and the Bisons,” said Krebs.
He wasted no time either; he was back practising the morning after the tournament and was welcomed back with a warm ovation from his teammates.
“We are very proud of the opportunity he was given and the way he represented us at the tournament,” said Bisons’ head coach Sandy Henry. “It’s always nice having one of you players bring back a gold medal.”
Even after missing two games still leads the Alberta Midget Hockey League with six goals and 15 points.
This was Alberta’s fifth Challenge Cup championship. They boasted the deepest roster in the tournament that included 10 first round selections from the WHL bantam draft, including the top three selections, Krebs, Dach (Saskatoon Blades) and Bowen Byram (third overall, Vancouver Giants).