The Prairie Hockey Academy's first tournament had a dream-like ending for the local program.
Moose Jaw's Atley Calvert lifted a backhand into the back of the net to give the PHA Cougars a 3-2 shootout win over the St. Albert Flyers in the final of the inaugural Prairie Classic Elite 15 tournament on Sunday at the Barkman Arena in Caronport.
"It felt really good, the boys battled hard for the whole weekend, so we deserved to come out with the 'W' and the tournament, it felt really good," said Calvert.
The Cougars posted a 3-0 record in the round robin, which included another shootout victory over the Flyers, 4-3, on Saturday. PHA also won 7-1 over the Medicine Hat SEAC Tigers on Friday and then they shutout the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday.
"We're really starting to gel together and click; we know where each other are on the ice, we're trusting each other and working as a team out there," said Calvert.
This weekend also served as the first game action for new head coach Lorne Molleken, who was named the team's bench boss at the end of December.
The long-time WHL coach said there was one thing that really stood out to him about the team over this past weekend's four games.
"There are lots of different things that I didn't expect, but the one thing that was very, very noticeable was the work ethic of this group, they competed hard in every game and they were all battles. It was nice to see and it really demonstrated what type of character that they have," said Molleken.
The Cougars have been playing some incredible hockey as of late. They went into the Christmas break with four straight wins in Edmonton, including a 3-2 overtime win against the CSSHL-leading Burnaby Winter Club.
Prior to that, the Cougars also won the Western Sport School Challenge in Calgary in early December. They went 5-1 at that tournament, giving them a 13-1 record in their last 14 games.
Molleken said he's just aiming to keep building on the base that's already there for this squad, "The coaching staff has a tremendous job with this team before I got here," he said.
"The players are very coachable, they want to learn and for me, their work ethic is second to none, so that’s real, real encouraging."
The Cougars return to the ice this weekend for some CSSHL action, as they travel to Calgary to face the Edge School in games on Saturday and Sunday.