Grade AAA players – Three young Hay River athletes reach next level of hockey

Conner McKay-Ivanko and Declan Munro practice are usually used to playing on ice, but are so into hockey that they'll pretend on tile. The two were chosen to play in novice division triple 'A' level team in Grande Prairie for six weeks.

For most, the hockey season has ended, but for three novice players it’s only just beginning.

Hay River’s Kaden Beck, Conner McKay-Ivanko and Declan Munro have been selected to play with the North Country Storm and Stars, two AAA-level novice teams in Grande Prairie, Alta.

They will travel south weekly for six weeks to practise, play tournaments in Edmonton, Calgary and Red Deer, and build their hockey skills before a well-deserved summer break.

“They travel every weekend for either a practice or a tournament,” said Huskies coach Kim Ivanko.

This is the first time Beck tried out for and made the AAA level novice team, because he wanted a different opportunity from minor hockey.

Munro, who will be playing with the AAA team for the second time, said he doesn’t tire from the long weeks of school, road trips and hockey practice.

“My dad’s encouragement keeps me going,” he said.

This is McKay-Ivanko’s first time with the team.

“Our coach always says, ‘Skate hard, all the time, every time,’” he said.

The three were among 70 players trying out for spots.

Terrence Courtoreille coached the three eight-year-olds for two years.

“The coaches down south would definitely be looking for technique, leadership skills and also a level of maturity,” said Courtoreille. “Those three have all of those characteristics.”

They have already attended a tournament – the Edmonton Cup on the weekend of April 28 – and a practice in Grande Prairie. They will also be heading to a tournament in Calgary on May 19 and another later in Red Deer.

Next year, the three will be moving up a division to atoms.