The Prairie Hockey Academy hosted one of the best bantam teams in Western Canada over the weekend in Caronport. The PHA Elite 15 Cougars squared off with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep squad for a pair of exhibition games at the Barkman Arena.

The local academy came up short in both games, falling 5-3 on Saturday and 7-0 on Sunday, but the new program is taking a lot away from the two games against a talented opposition.

“They’re a very excellent team, very well coached, a lot of skill, some say top-three bantam team in Western Canada and they showed it today, but I’ll give our guys credit for battling,” said PHA head coach Rodney MacPhee.

Sunday’s score doesn’t reflect the effort from the Cougars, who put plenty of pressure on OHA Edmonton, but couldn’t solve goalie Drew Sim, who made over 30 saves for the shutout.

The game was close five-on-five, but given a chance to work with the man advantage, the OHA Edmonton squad would make PHA pay on a number of occasions.

“They’re a pass first team, they’re not a selfish team and they spread you out so that they can work the puck to those open guys,” said MacPhee.  “There’s lots of details stuff that we’ve been talking about and hopefully playing that will reinforce that so our boys come back and practice harder.”

Kyle Masters had a pair of goals in the win for OHA Edmonton as they had six different goal scorers in the seven-goal performance. WHL Bantam Draft top prospect Sean Tschigerl had a goal and two points in Sunday’s win and finished with three goals and six points between the two games.

PHA defenceman Ethan Peters said these two games were good lessons for them.

“We’ve just got to be consistent every game like them, they were making good passes and we’ve got to find a way to match them,” he said.

“I’m really proud of the boys, we battled hard, we really competed, they’re a good team, but we battled and that’s what we’ve got to do every game.”

Saturday’s game saw Ben Peterson pick up a gaol and two points in the loss for PHA.  Tanner Funk and Evan Callaghan also found the back of the net in the game, while Atley Calvert chipped in with a pair of assists.

Every time on the ice is a learning experience for the Cougars, who are in the inaugural season for the program.

Earlier this month, PHA spent a weekend in Red Deer at a ranch owned by Shane Doan’s parents and that experience translated over onto the ice for the Cougars this past weekend.

“We’re really gelling and messing together and it feels like a real good team,” he said.  “We did some rock climbing stuff and it really shows how you have to depend on each other as a team and work off each other and use each other.”

“It was awesome,” added MacPhee on the team building experience. “They have a gym, horse back riding, home cooked meals, it was phenomenal, it was really good for the boys.”

The Cougars will return to the ice coming up next weekend when they head to Calgary for the Edge Hockey Academy Midget Varsity Tournament from Nov. 2-5.