The Airdrie Xtreme are returning to the U15 AAA provincials after sweeping series against both the Calgary Royals and Red Deer Rebels.

Over the weekend, the Xtreme punched their ticket to play the best teams in the province with a pair of wins over the Red Deer Rebels, 6-3 and 6-4.

"We definitely went in confident against Red Deer, and played really well," says Xtreme head coach Tyson Soloski. "But we knew if we played our game, we had a really good chance. We played two really good games against a good team, and we were able to find a way to win."

The team has time for two practices, but that's it before the provincials get underway on Thursday, Mar. 23 in Okotoks. 

"I honestly believe it's the top five teams in our league that are at provincials this year, which is great for the league. I think all games are going to be extremely competitive and if you don't come to play every game, any team can beat anyone in this tournament."

They open the provincials against the Calgary Bisons, who early in the season handed the Xtreme their only loss in 34 games. They'll also be facing Edmonton's K of C Squires, St. Albert Sabres, and the hosting Okotoks Oilers in the round-robin. The top two in the round-robin advance to the gold game, and third and fourth vie for bronze.

Soloski says they had a solid core of players returning at the beginning of the season.

"We were fortunate enough to have six returning players, which really kind of set our foundation this year. I think it's a huge part of why we've had so much success. Those players were able to help build the culture that we wanted, and it's been a great season."

That culture has also been aided by a program that attracts tremendous interest from emerging hockey players in the region.

"It's quite the cool process at the beginning of the year. I think we had about 130 kids try out this year, which was awesome to see, and it has helped to develop our program over the past couple of years. I think we'll continue to move the program in the right direction over the next few years hopefully."

The Xtreme is formed of players from across a large catchment area that includes, Cochrane, Airdrie, and Canmore, and even as far north as Carstairs.

Cochrane's Riley Boychuk was Xtreme's leading scorer in the regular season with 18 goals and 52 assists. Matthew Hilderman was fourth with 20 goals and 21 assists.

Soloski is in his fourth season as head coach. He played all his minor hockey in Cochrane and was a Cochrane General for four seasons before turning his attention to coaching. 

The Xtreme advance to the provincials last season after they were suspended for two seasons during the pandemic. They won it all in 2018.