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The Pee-Wee A hockey team holds up their trophy at regions. Included are (front, left to right) JJ Foster, Shane Birkeland, Bailey Rosch, Derek Pesta, Ben Jenson, Matthew Carlsen, Joe Westlund, Evan Lattimer and Landyn James. Back left to right is Caleb Strong, Joe Bigger, Andrew Revering, Brock Shriver, Paul Schwartz, Zach Wosepka, Ben Doherty, Hunter Croonquist and Jack Westlund. (Contributed)

AAHA youth teams prepare for state

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Two youth hockey teams in the Alexandria Area Hockey Association have broken a 14 year drought by qualifying for state tournaments this year.

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Both the Alexandria Bantam A and Pee-Wee A hockey teams took second place in regional competition to qualify for state tournaments. The Pee-Wee A state tournament will be held March 14-16 in Crookston and the Bantam A state tournament will be in Coon Rapids those same days.

The squads are the first from the AAHA to qualify for a state tournament since 1999. AAHA President Kent Kopp hopes to see more teams make the trip to state tournaments in the near future.

“We’re excited to see them go. We have great coaches, great parents,” Kopp said. “We have a very strong group of squirts and mites coming up behind these kids, so we’re hoping to set a precedence.”

The Bantam A team defeated Warroad and Detroit Lakes twice in the regional tournament from to earn second place and its spot at state.

Increases in the number of youth hockey players in Alexandria have led to some improved teams recently. AAHA has seen numbers grow from around 200 players 10 years ago to more than 300 this season.

“We’ve seen the number of kids in the program grow, and I think the numbers translate to success at the youth level,” Kopp said.

This success could also lead to some better teams later on. Kopp hopes to see AAHA’s success eventually translate to the high school level in Alexandria.

“The better we do at the youth level, that should feed the high school and help them have success in the future,” Kopp said.

STATE HOCKEY

The Alexandria Area Hockey Association is doing a pep rally next Tuesday from 6 to 6:30 p.m. at the RCC to introduce the teams that are going to state. The public is invited to attend and send them off to the state tournaments.

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Blaze Fugina
Blaze Fugina is a sports reporter at the Echo Press. Before working in Alexandria, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. He previously worked as the community editor of the Mound Laker for more than a year. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.
(320) 763-1230
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